Spring time is upon us! On a beautiful April weekend, I went along with the 4th quarter CAP class up to the mountains at Calwood for the first weekend overnight. Upon our arrival, the howling wind sent shivers up our spines, but that was only a slight set-back for the weekend that lay ahead. After the tents were pitched, our first activity was a sit spot. What a great way to focus the group and get everyone excited for the weekend!
We spent time hiking up Solitude Point, building debris shelters, and learning survival techniques. Everyone had a great attitude and worked hard as a team to get things done. After a chilly dinner, we gathered in the warming hut to spend time around the fire, giving us a chance to bond as a class and share some laughter. When the sun had set, we returned outside to do a drum stalk under the full moon. At first some students were frightened by the idea of walking in the dark blindfolded, but after a few rounds everyone was trying their best and using all of their senses. We ended the day with a night hike up Solitude to admire the beautiful moon. When we reached the top, we all began to howl at the brilliant light shining down upon us. Before too long we heard a pack of coyotes howling back! It was cool to experience the magic of nature on such a wonderful night.
Our second overnight was much warmer than the first! We had a gorgeous weekend near Taylor Mountain and took advantage of the weather to hike, practice fire, and relax!
An afternoon hike proved quite exciting as the group interacted with maps in a new way. As the afternoon approached, we packed our daypacks and set out for a hike on the Bright Trail. This was an awesome chance for everyone to chat and soak up the sunshine. I loved the feeling of the hike, it was relaxed and everyone was observing their surroundings. Time flew by without anyone noticing! On our way back, we decided to follow the contour lines on a map we had to get back to our campsite. We trekked through the forest for quite a while, doing our best to go the right direction. After a while, we thought we had gotten lost because our campsite was nowhere to be found! By using all of our combined wilderness know-how, we managed to make it back safe and sound. It was a great experience to have the feeling of getting lost, because we got to practice what to do in case we were in a real survival situation.
The group’s fire skills also improved. After a season of fire bans we had a great time exploring different ways of making fire. The single match fires proved to be a great challenge for many students. This trip was also a great opportunity for students to increase their backcountry cooking skills and with our fire, s’mores were in full effect! Everyone had a great time on this final trip of the year and the class really came together, learning not only the skills presented, but gaining a deeper understanding of themselves and each other.
I believe the real magic of these trips is the power of togetherness. It’s my favorite aspect of CAP and is the reason I keep coming back. I think the overnights were a success and we learned a lot. I can’t wait for all the adventures to come!
Check out the fun, by clicking here to view the photo slideshow.
Written by Jo Skuski and Madeline Bachner
From November 7-8, we headed out for the first weekend overnight. The campsite was Camp Cheley, near Allenspark, which offered a beautiful pine forest with a stream running by. The weather was mostly sunny, although the cool fall air warned us of winter, and the days felt shorter than ever. We still managed to fit in plenty of games and learn new skills.
We practiced some camping basics such as selecting campsites, setting up a bear hang, digging a sump hole, and preparing a fire. Also, we learned important wilderness survival strategies such as building shelter, fire-making techniques, and developing awareness in the outdoors. Some of these skills were put to the test in a fierce competition to see who could build the most effective survival shelter. While these shelters are not as easily constructed as they appear, they would make the difference between life and death in a survival situation. Things really got heated up when we learned about different methods of making fire. Everyone successfully made 1-match fires (sometimes using a couple extra matches) and cotton-ball fires.A few people were even able to use bow-drill kits to make fire by friction: a task that requires tremendous determination, perfect form, and sometimes a little luck. Well done!
We were lucky enough to have student-teacher / CAP veteran Aleyna Porecca along for her 7th CAP overnight to help everyone out with building fires, debris huts, and camp logistics. Michael Koehler, an intervention intern at New Vista, also came along for the ride. Right now Michael is studying wilderness therapy at Naropa, and he has been a tremendous asset on the last two CAP overnights. Thanks for the help you guys! These trips certainly would not be the same without you.
Most of the seniors in the group had just finished lengthy standardized testing and arrived late Saturday afternoon. Although they were weary, they soon forgot their stress and joined the festivities. The tone of the trip was lighthearted and full of laughter. New friendships were forged, stories were told, and the group transitioned into a community. All of these things were essential for tackling the environmental action project ahead.
The CAP overnights help to remind us what we are trying to protect, and why. CAP is a completely unique experience because students dictate their own education. They find an environmental issue they are passionate about, and then actively form resolutions to make the world into a better place. Often times, this task is daunting. It is an easy thing to shrug our shoulders and say that there is nothing we can do for the environment, but it takes hard work and courage to take a stand. The students of CAP are the future leaders of our community. The decisions they make will span beyond our lifetime and will affect the future generations. They are the Johnny Appleseeds of our time, planting hope for those that come after them.
The next trip will be December 7-8. Stay tuned!