| Ford Church

Class Syllabus, 4th Quarter 2006

Ford Church, M. A., Founder and Executive Director
Cottonwood Institute
303.447.1076 (w)
ford at cottonwoodinstitute.org

Course Dates and Times:
Seminar Intensive for 1.0 credits: Tuesdays: 11:05am – 12:05pm, Wednesdays: 8:45am – 3:05pm (including Breaks, Advisory, and Lunch), and Fridays: 11:05am – 12:05pm, plus 2 weekend overnight camping trips.

Course Description:
The Community Adventure Program (CAP) is all about practicing essential camping and wilderness survival skills, environmental awareness, and community action. CAP is for adventurous students who want to practice cool outdoor skills, explore the Colorado backcountry, discuss and debate local environmental issues, and who want to make a positive impact in the community. This quarter we will learn essential camping and wilderness survival skills, go on field trips to explore the community, and will go on two weekend overnight camping trips this quarter. You will also work with your classmates to design a student-directed Action Project to address an environmental issue in the community and make a difference in the community. NOTE: There will be a minimal fee for course materials and you will have to pay for the food costs and gear rental costs (if needed) for weekend trips. Financial assistance is available, so please talk to Diana McKnight or me if you need financial assistance.

Course Overview:
Wilderness Skill Development: Half of our time will be spent learning outdoor skills to give you the basics to comfortably and competently explore the outdoors with your friends and family outside of this class. The Boulder community is full of world-class outdoors enthusiasts and educators. This class will provide you with an opportunity to tap into this rich educational resource and to meet new people who have an amazing amount of knowledge, talent, and experience. You will also be expected to become competent in the following basic wilderness skills:

  • Expedition behavior
  • Minimum impact environmental ethics
  • Nature awareness skills
  • Thermodynamics and heat loss
  • High tech vs. low tech gear and equipment
  • Stove operation
  • Trip planning
  • Route selection and planning
  • Food purchasing, nutrition, and rations planning
  • Basic knots
  • Campsite selection: 5 W’s
  • Modern tents
  • Poncho shelters
  • Ecologically responsible fire building techniques
  • Survival skills and priorities
  • Survival kits
  • Map and compass
  • Campsite management
  • Personal hygiene
  • General ecology
  • Astronomy and Greek Mythology
  • Decision making and problem solving skills
  • Outdoor and civic leadership
  • Safety and risk management

Community Involvement:

  • Step 1: Explore the community
  • Step 2: Identify the issues
  • Step 3: Select an issue
  • Step 4: Understand issue
  • Step 5: Collaborate with the community
  • Step 6: Create a solution
  • Step 7: Plan the Action Project
  • Step 8: Implement the Action Project
  • Step 9: Evaluate and reflect on the Action Project
  • Step 10: Share what they have learned

CAP Website:
The Cottonwood Institute has created a class website for the Community Adventure Program where we will document our CAP experience. This website allows us to post journal entries, photos, quotes, etc. and to get instant comments from students, teachers, administrators, parents, and community members. The CAP website is located at www.communityadventure.org and we will spend an entire class going through the website so everyone is familiar with how to use it. To make a comment, click on the “Comments” link at the bottom of any post, scroll to the bottom of the post, fill out the required information, and hit submit. Please encourage your friends and family to post inspiring comments and wisdom to the website! You can receive extra credit for posting comments, so see the Extra Credit Opportunities section below for more information.

Qualifications and Background:
I wanted to take a brief moment to tell you about my education, qualifications, and certifications for teaching this course. I am the Founder and Executive Director of a non-profit organization here in Boulder I created called the Cottonwood Institute, which is committed to changing the world one adventure at a time. For more information about the Cottonwood Institute and to check out our 2006 course schedule, please visit www.cottonwoodinstitute.org. You can get high school and college credit for these courses so check them out and talk to me after class if you are interested in attending some our courses this spring break and summer.

In my spare time, I teach this class with New Vista High School and I maintain a Substitute License with the Boulder Valley School District. I graduated from the University of Denver in 1998 with a B.S.B.A. in Marketing and I recently completed my Master’s Degree in Adventure Education Program Management through Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona. I have worked in the Denver/Boulder area in the outdoor industry for the past five years and have worked for such organizations as the Boulder Outdoor Survival School, the Colorado Mountain Club, the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, The Outdoor Network, and the Institute for Creative Education. I am also an adjunct teacher at Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado where I teach a variety of winter and summer survival courses. In addition to my teaching commitments, I serve as a Steering Committee member and volunteer trip leader with the Inner City Outings, which is a branch of the Sierra Club in Denver. I have a Wilderness First Responder medical certification and have a background in teaching wilderness and camping skills, outdoor survival skills, avalanche and snow science, and winter camping.

Class Fee:
There is a $15.00 fee for this class for materials we will use and events we will attend throughout the class. Please bring a check made out to New Vista High School due no later than Tuesday, April 11, 2006. Students are also responsible for the costs associated with attending both weekend trips. Students are expected to provide their own equipment for weekend trips and arrange access to transportation. The CAP has limited access to clothing and equipment that can be borrowed if available. Otherwise, students are expected to rent gear from local outdoor retailers or borrow equipment from friends and family. I recommend renting equipment from REI, Neptune Mountaineering, or the Boulder Outdoor Center in town. Last quarter, student spent on average $10 – $15 per trip for food and those students who had to rent gear spent approximately $10 – $20 per trip. Financial assistance is available to students who need help with the class fee, weekend trip food, or equipment fees, so please contact Diana McKnight or me for more information. If you would like to buy your own equipment and support our General Scholarship Fund, please visit the Cottonwood Institute Store at: https://www.cottonwoodinstitute.org/cottonwood_institute/store/index.html to buy the equipment you will need for this course.

Weekend Overnight Field Trips:

  • Saturday – Sunday, May 6-7, 2006
  • Saturday – Sunday, May 20-21, 2006

* The skills covered during our overnights are an essential component of this class, so DO NOT miss these weekend overnight trips. These dates are currently set in stone and cannot be changed. If you have a previous commitment that you cannot get out of (please do everything in your power to wiggle out of them), you will be required to complete an additional project of equivalent magnitude in order to pass this class.

We are relying heavily on your parents to drive us to field trip destinations, overnight camping trips, and to our Action Project location. Please ask your parents if they will be willing to drive for these upcoming events. If they are available to drive, the District will require them to fill out and provide some additional paperwork. I need to take care of this ASAP so please let me know immediately if your parents can drive!

Required Assignments and Due Dates:
Required assignments represent 50% of your grade. If you receive a 0 on a required assignment, you will have to redo the assignment or complete a make up assignment before our next overnight trip or you will not be allowed to come on our weekend overnights. It is your responsibility to complete the following required assignments by dates listed below, so mark these dates in your calendar:

  • Class Fee: Turn in your $15.00 class fee by Tuesday, April 11, 2006 or sooner!
  • Release Forms: Return signed release forms by Tuesday, April 11, 2006 or sooner!
  • CAP Web Journal: Each Friday, I will post an open-ended journal question to our website and you will need to post a comment and respond to this question each Tuesday by the beginning of class. All entries must be spell checked before they are posted and must be thoughtful contributions that generate discussion on the website. This is a public educational forum, so inappropriate comments, language, and journal entries will be dealt with swiftly and harshly and your grade will suffer, so don’t even go there. Please review the CAP Web Journal Assignment handout for an example of an outstanding journal entry.
  • Outdoor Clinic Assignment: This is a three-part assignment and will give you an opportunity to learn about an outdoor skill or environmental issue. To complete this assignment, you need to: 1. Attend a local outdoor skills clinic, slide show, or environmental issue presentation at a local outdoor retail store of your choice. Each student must sign up in advance. 2. Complete an Outdoor Clinic Report (journal entry) about the local skills clinic or slideshow presentation you attended by Wednesday, May 17th, 2006. 3. Give an Outdoor Clinic Presentation to share what you learned with the class on Wednesday, May 17th, 2006. If you fail to complete this assignment by May 17, 2006, you will not be allowed to attend our last weekend overnight.
  • Attend two weekend outings: May 6-7, 2006 AND May 20-21, 2006. Block out these dates in your social calendars (proms and dances are not an excuse) and DO NOT MAKE ANY PLANS THESE WEEKENDS. Weekend overnights are a privilege and if you break our course contract, receive a 0 on an assignment, or fail to complete a required assignment before our next trip, you will not attend these overnight trips.
  • Nature Sketching: Nature sketching is a key way to develop our Naturalist Intelligence. When we go on hikes and our weekend overnight trips, we will sketch the natural world in our notebooks and record our observations.
  • 4 Days in May/Action Project: Part of your grade depends on actively participating and contributing to our 4 Days in May Action Project. Our 4 Days in May/Action Project week is scheduled for the week of May 8-11, 2006 and is required so do NOT miss the events we schedule for this week!
  • Final Exam: A final exam will be given on Tuesday, May 30, 2006 to assess what you have learned during this class. Questions will consist of true/false, multiple choice, and short answer questions, so you are expected to take notes during class and keep all handouts to review for this exam.
  • Final Reflection Paper: There will be a 3-5 page Final Reflection Paper due at the end of the quarter. Late papers will NOT receive full credit and if you fail to complete this assignment you will get an IP in the class. You will receive a handout with more specific information, but your Final Reflection Paper is due on Wednesday, May 31, 2006.
  • Other: Complete other required assignments and homework as assigned.

Excused and Unexcused Absences:
If you are absent from class, whether it is excused or unexcused, you are responsible for finding out what we covered, what you missed, and for getting a copy of handouts. This is not my responsibility – it is yours! You can set up a meeting with me outside of class or talk to one of your classmates to catch up on what you missed. If you miss more than 8 hours of class for the quarter excused or unexcused, you will not earn the full 1.0 credits for this class unless you complete a serious make up assignment. If this happens, I will give you a make up assignment to get you back up to speed.

Extra Credit Opportunities:

  • Post comments to the CAP website: If you post 5 separate, non-assigned, meaningful and insightful comments to the website, you will receive 1 point towards your Required Assignment average. If you post 10 or more comments you will receive 2 points towards your Required Assignment average. This may sound small, but it could be the difference between a B and an A or a B and a C. Inappropriate comments will be dealt with swiftly and harshly.
  • Turn in an extra creative journal above and beyond what is required of you.
  • Go above and beyond with our Action Project. Being a Project Manager or stepping up to take on tasks that nobody else will allow you to earn extra credit in this class and demonstrates excellent Expeditionary Behavior.
  • Write a reflective three-part journal entry about what we did during the week and post the journal entry to the CAP website (must be approved and “website” worthy!)
  • Write an additional Journal entry about a class related topic of your choice
  • Write an article about a class-related topic and post to the CAP website
  • Attend a free outdoor clinic in town at Neptune Mountaineering or REI and talk to the class about what you learned.
  • Teach a lesson or skill to the class
  • Participate in Exhibition Day at the end of the quarter to share what we did this quarter.

*Required equipment students should have available for our weekly field trips:

  • Rain gear tops and bottoms
  • Jacket or warm coat
  • Long underwear tops and bottoms (no cotton)
  • Small backpack, book bag, or knapsack
  • Sturdy hiking boots or shoes
  • Wool socks
  • Warm hat
  • Warm gloves
  • 2 – 32 oz water bottles or Gatorade bottles
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Extra layers

Optional equipment for students should consider purchasing for personal use:
If you plan on camping beyond this class, you may consider purchasing the following equipment for your personal use. Again, you are not required to buy this equipment to participate in this class, but may want to invest in this equipment for future use outdoors! Go to Savers to look for used outdoor gear or check out the Boulder Army Store for cheaper gear. Please contact me with any questions about outdoor gear and equipment and I will be more than happy to address them.

  • Carving Knife – Our weekend outings will require the use of a knife. You will need a 2” fixed blade knife with sheath for this class. Serrated blades are popular in the stores but are not recommended because they are for cutting rope, not for carving wood. I recommend the 2” Woodcarvers classic knife from Frosts, which can be purchased online at: https://fallriveronline.net/site/swedishknives.com/order.htm for $24.50 ($19.00 + $5.50 for shipping and handling). Any knife blade over 3” is strictly prohibited on overnight camping trips and knives should never be brought to school or class. If you bring a folding blade, the blade must lock. This means no Swiss Army Knives unless the blade locks.
  • 0 to 20 Degree sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • 3-season tent, tarp, or Army Issue rubberized GI or German poncho
  • 4,300 – 5,200 cubic inch (70-85 Liter) internal frame or external frame backpack to carry gear
  • Backpacking stove, fuel bottles, pots, and pans
  • Water purification tablets or a water filter.

Safety Considerations:

  • We will be going on hikes and field trips outside during this class, so it is important to dress appropriately (no flip flops on hikes!). Bring a small backpack so you can layer and carry your stuff. Temperatures in Colorado during the winter can range from 0 degrees to 70, so be prepared for all conditions.
  • Altitude sickness, frostbite, hypothermia, and fatigue are our biggest safety considers on overnight trips. To prevent these medical issues, it is important to drink lots of fluid and eat lots of high energy/high calorie foods. It is important to stay hydrated on field trips and weekend overnight trips. To borrow from Camelbak: “Hydrate or Die”. Hydrating can also help prevent altitude sickness, frostbite, and hypothermia. You may also want to start a low-impact cardiovascular exercise routine to stay in shape for our field trips and overnight camping trips. The better shape you are in, the better experience you will have in the field!
  • Substance abuse on any field trip or weekend overnight will not be tolerated and users will be immediately removed from a course – no exceptions. The use of illegal substances is a huge liability in the backcountry and could put the entire group at risk. The use or intended use of illegal substances in this class will result in an I/P (i.e. failing) of the class and Rona and Kappy will pursue disciplinary avenues. If I suspect that you have illegal drugs or alcohol on our overnights, I have the right to search you and your person. In addition to that, I have put a lot of blood sweat and tears into developing this program and the use of illegal substances in this class will jeopardize this class at New Vista. If you bring drugs or alcohol on any of our trips you not only hurt yourself, but you jeopardize my job!
  • There is no making out on CAP Overnight Trips – sorry guys, School Policy! Our goals are to not loose anyone and to not come back with more people than we started with!
  • Let’s keep our conversation in this class appropriate. Any inappropriate conversation such as alcohol, drug use, parties, pregnancy, etc. I have a legal responsibility to report to Rona and Kappy. Let’s not go there.
  • Please speak to me about any life threatening allergies or medical conditions privately after class.
  • Wear sunscreen when we are outside and sunglasses if there is snow to protect your eyes from the glare.

Course Non-Negotiables:

  • Have a blast!
  • Fully participate in activities
  • Be environmental stewards of the land we use
  • Be respectful of others
  • Create a safe learning environment both physically and emotionally

Course Contract:
Obviously, we must adhere to the norms and discipline policies listed in the New Vista Student Handbook. However, this is our class, so we will have our own contract that we will all agree to adhere to. As a class we will decide what we will commit to the contract, what the consequences will be, and how our contract will be enforced. Our course commitments are intended to be dynamic, not a list that is static or set in stone. If something is not working, we can revisit it and change the course commitments. Having said that, there are 2 things can may result in a detention, suspension, or expulsion:
*Students will not maliciously taunt one another or fight one another.
*Expletives will not be directed towards another student.


  • If any conflicts arise throughout this class, we will adhere to the commitments that we all helped create as a group. If conflicts cannot be resolved, students have four options for solving conflicts:
  • Work it out with the student
  • Take a time out and work it out with the teacher
  • Bring the problem to the class or Council for input and advice
  • Spend the remainder of the class in the front office and work it out there

Grading and Assessment:
I. Daily Participation (50%)

  • Class Attendance
  • Class Behavior and Attitude
  • Class Participation

II. Completion of Required Assignments (50%)

  • (See description of required assignments above)

At the end of each class, you will receive a 4, 3, 2, or 1 based on attitude, behavior and participation. For each required assignment, you will also receive a 4, 3, 2, or 1. Here is how the grading scale works:

  • 4 = A. Students will earn a 4 for their class participation grade if they demonstrate exceptional expedition behavior, attitude, enthusiasm, work, participation, and if they go above and beyond the call of duty. Ex. Encouraging students, taking initiative, demonstrating leadership and teamwork, helping put things away without being asked, etc. Students will earn a 4 on required assignments if they turn in their work early or on time, if their work is creative, thoughtful, makes connections with their personal lives, go above and beyond with research, shows depth with their thought process, and if their work is free of grammar and spelling errors.
  • 3 = B. A student will earn a 3 for their class participation grade if they do what is required of them. Ex. Show up for class on time, have a good attitude, treat people with respect, participate in activities, adhere to the course commitments, etc. Students will earn a 3 on required assignments if they turn in their assignments on time, meet the minimum requirements indicated in the assignment handout sheet, and have minimal grammar and spelling errors.
  • 2 = C. A student will earn a 2 for their class participation grade if they are late to class, have a poor attitude, are disruptive in class, are disrespectful to others, poor participation, break course commitments, etc. Students will earn a 2 on required assignments if they turn in their assignments late, have a lot of grammar and spelling errors, show a lack of depth in their thought process, etc.
  • 1 = IP (Insufficient Progress). Students will receive a 1 for their class participation grade if they skip class without an excused absence, are blatantly disruptive and disrespectful, fight with other students, or continually break our course commitments. Students will earn a 1 on required assignments if they do not turn in required assignments or put little to no effort into the assignment.

Receiving a 1 or a 2 for your class participation grade or on a required assignment can kill your grade in this class very quickly. An average will be tallied at the middle and end of the term based on the total possible points to determine your grade in the class. The following scale will be used:

100 – 93 = A
92.9 – 90 = A-
89.9 – 87 = B+
86.9 – 83 = B
82.9 – 80 = B-
79.9 – 77 = C+
76.9 – 73 = C
72.9 – 70 = C-
69.9 < = IP

I want to personally see everyone excel in this course. If you show up to class, participate, and turn in the required assignments, there is no reason everyone should not get at least a B in this course. I would like to see everyone get an A in this class, but I will only award A’s to students who demonstrate exceptional expedition behavior, attendance, attitude, and participation and who complete all of the required assignments that exceed my expectations. I will be open to creative ways for students to earn make up or extra credit and will discuss opportunities on a one-on-one basis.

Categories: Community Adventure Program

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