| Teagan Papke

AXL Academy’s Adventurous Winter Days

Scaling New Heights and Navigating Nature: AXL Academy Students’ Adventurous Winter Field Days. Written by Cottonwood Field Instructor Kira Taggart.

In early December, AXL 7th and 8th graders went on their winter field days to The Spot Climbing Gym and Pelican Pond Open Space. We had two fun days where students learned the basics of indoor climbing and practiced their orienteering skills with a compass scavenger hunt!

An AXL Academy 7th grader hangs joyously from the climbing wall at The Spot Climbing GymIn the morning, we drove to The Spot where we started with bouldering. Bouldering is climbing smaller routes that don’t go very high off the ground and is done without a harness or rope. On the first day, the 8th graders jumped right in and started coming up with challenges for each other. They took turns trying out different parts of the wall, all the while cheering each other on and helping each other figure out the next moves on the wall. Then, we moved on to rope climbing, which involves climbing higher and longer routes while attached to a rope that will catch you if you fall. This part of the day was a lot of fun, and though some students were nervous, everyone got on the wall at least once. It was hard to trust the rope to catch you on the way down, but it was great to see everyone getting out of their comfort zone.

An AXL Academy 8th grade student picks up a rock while exploring Pelican Ponds Open SpaceAfter climbing, we made our way to Pelican Pond Open Space. There is a great playground there, and the students probably would have spent the whole day on the swings if they could! But it was time to put their orienteering skills to the test with a scavenger hunt. Students were split up into groups where they got a clue with a compass bearing and several steps to take to their next clue. They worked together to find many clues, which had the pieces to a reward at the end. For 8th graders, this was Kool-Aid (though we quickly realized the packets didn’t have any sugar!) and for 7th graders, it was hot chocolate!

To wrap up the trip, we walked down to the South Platte River and had some time to explore and look for critters in the water before heading back to school. Climbing was definitely the highlight of both days. For many students, it was their first time climbing, and they gave it so much energy and enthusiasm.

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