A student reaches the top of a climb!


Climbing with Sims-Fayola Foundation

Written by Field Instructor Ruthie Cartwright. Hands and feet hit the rock wall before names had even been exchanged. Rock climbing, a sport which can often intimidate even the most versatile athletes, was clearly a welcome new adventure to the youth from the Sims-Fayola Foundation. Bodies were flying up the wall, and even clinging to… Read more »

A group of AXL students posing at Calwood


Let the good times roll with AXL

AXL Academy students build a quinzhee and roll down hills in the snow on their winter overnight at Calwood. Written by Field Instructor Jarrod Gaut. Escrito en español más abajo.   How do you move a ping pong ball into a bucket twenty feet away without touching it? You scoop it in your shoe! This… Read more »

Jessie at LHOC explaining how to build a snow shelter


Emergency Snow Shelters with Lefthand Outdoor Challenge

Cottonwood Instructors Jessie and Ruthie joined Boulder County for a Lefthand Outdoor Challenge winter skills day at Caribou Ranch. Written by Ruthie Cartwright.  We’ll invite you into the same scene that we offered the Lefthand Outdoor Challenge students on Saturday: imagine that we just sat down to take a break after a long snowshoe hike…. Read more »

Three Centaurus students at Caribou Ranch


It’s time to build a quinzhee with Centaurus!

It’s time to build a quinzhee! Written by Field Instructor Jarrod Gaut. Escrito en español más abajo. The marvelous CAP class at Centaurus High were ready; they donned their snowshoes and trudged out to Caribou Ranch lugging their snow shovels. Complete professionals, and hard set to their task, they piled up snow as tall as… Read more »

AXL student learning archery


Archery, Animals, and AXL at Barr Lake

AXL students learn archery, practice animal tracking, and enjoy the snow on their recent field day at Barr Lake. Written by Field Instructor Piper Triggs. Escrito en español más abajo. The setting: Barr Lake State Park, on a classically cold and sunny Colorado day, with fresh snow thick on the ground. The mission: learning animal… Read more »

Whitney Thompson


Introducing Whitney Thompson, CI’s Mental Health Advisor

Cottonwood Institute is thrilled to introduce our new Youth Mental Health Advisor, Whitney Thompson. As Cottonwood grows, we increasingly realize the importance of having a robust mental health support system for our students as well as excellent training programs for instructors heading into the field. Whitney will be a resource for Cottonwood to better serve… Read more »

The Angevine Middle School CAP class


United Legion of Flamingo Ninjas Takes on Betasso

See more photos here! If your student enjoyed this program, please considering making a donation to Cottonwood so we can continue to work with Angevine students. Can flamingos handle the cold, windy mountains? They can when they are Flamingo Ninjas! The students of Angevine Middle School CAP class (aka the United Legion of Flamingo Ninjas)… Read more »

Changemakers at their Wilderness First Aid clinic


Need first aid? Call a Changemaker!

You’re out on a day hike with a friend when you come up on someone sitting on the side of the trail; at first glance, you can tell they might be in trouble. If you spend time outdoors, chances are that you might have had this encounter or something similar– do you know what to… Read more »

Woods Boss invite


Ford on the Craft Beer Travel & Adventure Pod

Cottonwood Institute Founder and Executive Director Ford Church recently joined April and Ken Pishna on the Living A Stout Life Craft Beer Travel and Adventure podcast! April is a former Cottonwood instructor and Program Director. She and Ken are living their dream traveling the country, sampling craft breweries, and mountain biking. Read a repost from… Read more »

Winter training with Global Emergency Medics. Two instructors treat a patient.


Winter Skills Training with Global Emergency Medics

From planning our trips to managing risks in the field, keeping students safe on Cottonwood Institute programs is our number one priority. Whether we’re taking kids on a remote 4-day backpacking trip in Dinosaur National Monument or a 0-degree windchill field day to Barr Lake State Park, instructors have to be ready for anything. That’s… Read more »