| Vicki Whisenhunt

STRIVE Prep – Westwood Finds Winter Adventure

Strive Prep Quinzhee
Late in January, during their very first CAP meeting, STRIVE Prep – Westwood students discussed what they wanted to get from their participation in the Cottonwood Institute’s Community Adventure Program. They said things like “Learn about Nature!” “Go camping and hiking!” “Learn survival skills and how to make a fire!” “Go snowshoeing!” “Make s’mores!” They also said they wanted to “Do things for the community” and “Have fun!” Sure! This was their CAP Club so we agreed that this was what we’d do! But there was something else. It became clear that these Westwood students were also seeking a winter adventure!

What does that look like? According to the dictionary, adventure is an exciting or unusual experience, sometimes bold, sometimes risky. Adventurers are people who seek adventure for the challenge it poses, or because of the sense of satisfaction upon its completion. Without realizing it, these students were adventurers at heart.

So what better way to kick off the 2017 CAP semester at STRIVE Prep – Westwood than with some high adventure; taking a snowshoeing trip up to Caribou Ranch Open Space (elevation: 8600’). With only 4 meetings under their belts to get organized, the students assembled early one Saturday morning in the school parking lot to pack their gear and lunches, They boarded the van for the mountains. An hour and a half later, they were strapping on snowshoes, reviewing safety tips, and getting ready for their first big adventure together.

Their plan was to snowshoe into the woods to base camp, practice winter survival skills (like making a quinzhee), look for signs of animal life (besides human!), and most importantly – have fun spending time in nature and with each other. In the bright sunshine of that crisp winter day, the students headed out on the trail, adapting quickly to their winter gear and walking with ease. Along the way, they observed Aspen trees (a.k.a. Adrian Trees) with scars on their trunks showing where deer or elk had rubbed their antlers. They dug into the snowpack to see layers that told the story of the winter, so far. They shoveled piles of snow into a mound to build a quinzhee and discovered that you could stay warm and cozy inside, even in freezing weather. And they gleefully tore down their snow structure, practicing their newly adopted principles of “Leave No Trace.”

Most importantly they found an easy camaraderie with each other, based on this shared winter adventure. Within the span of the day, they had become winter adventurers. All told, it was a great day for the STRIVE Prep – Westwood CAP Adventurers, and a great start to their 2017 program.

Written by: CAP Instructor, Liz Goehring

Interested in seeing pictures from the trip?! Click here.


Categories: Community Adventure Program, STRIVE Prep

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