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Elk, Camping, and Reflection at New Vista High School

The Community Adventure Program (CAP) at New Vista High School wrapped up it’s quarter a couple of weeks ago! The quarter flew by, filled with field trips, guest speakers, hikes, camping trips, and students taking action to have a positive impact on their communities. Here are a few highlights from the quarter, focusing on the their action project and first camping trip:Waste Free Lunch

The Action Project: Elk Overpopulation
Written by students Caleb and Gaeryth
For their action project, the New Vista High School Community Adventure Program students focused on elk overpopulation in Rocky Mountain National Park. Elk overpopulation is an issue because humans extirpated the wolves in Colorado in the early 1900’s. This continues to cause trophic cascade, because with no wolves to kill the elk, the elk population explodes and therefore plant populations, such as willows, decrease. Without willows to hold the banks of the rivers together, the banks crumble into the water causing water pollution and lower fish populations. Other animals, such as beavers, decrease because they rely on the trees to survive. The solutions CAP class found included reintroducing wolves, birth control, hunting, fencing, and sharpshooting. They thought that the wolves would be the best solution because bringing back a top predator would be the most natural. They thought the second best choice would be fencing to protect aspens and willows that are hurt by elk overpopulation. To help spread the word in New Vista High School, the CAP class made posters, and put together a presentation to teach and raise awareness about elk overpopulation.

JulienThe First Camping Trip!
The student’s first overnight camping trip as a class took place in early April at Cal-Wood Education Center in Jamestown, CO. Katie and Brad led the trip, along with Thomas, a student leader and CAP alumnus. After backpacking to their campsite, setting up tents, eating lunch, and enjoying peaceful “sit spots”, the crew spent the afternoon on a service project for Cal-Wood. Their project consisted of moving logs to make it easier for the Cal-Wood land stewards to process the logs into firewood to be sold. All money from the firewood sales goes directly to low-income students so that they can experience Cal-Wood Education Center with their schools. The group spent the rest of the afternoon practicing various fire-building techniques. Many students cooked over the fire, while others explored the new-age technique of using small backpacking stoves. Games carried them through the rest of the evening until bedtime. After breakfast and bonding around the fire the next morning, they played more games, spent time observing the world around them during another sit spot, and reflected on their experiences at Cal-Wood. Sunday morning passed quickly, and before they knew it they were back in Boulder!Neal and Orion

Despite all of the activities and games on our camping trips, students most valued the more simple lifestyle inherent to spending time in the outdoors. Read below how our camping trips impacted students Caleb, Dylan, and Gaeryth:

“Something I really got out of the trip was a connection with the outdoors. It reminded me how good a nice view of the mountains is…When I got home I definitely noticed how different it was. Everything involving my T.V. was a little less exciting. I actually found it better to just take a nap in the sun outside.” – Caleb

“One if the biggest things I noticed while on the camping trip is what the world was like before the modern age of machines and technology. Time grew less of a factor as the days seemed longer with the lack of distractions. It was as if one hour felt like three and I thought that was pretty cool for the reminder it gave me of how simple life used to be.” – Dylan

“In the woods, and especially during the sit spot, I could use more senses. I felt with my entire body and smelled everything. In civilization I just smell the strong smells and only feel with my hands.” – Gaeryth

AllensparkFinal Thoughts
The Community Adventure Program had a powerful impact on it’s students this quarter. Many students walked away from the class with stronger connections to themselves, their peers, and their environment. A new found passion for the environment is evident in a letter to Mother Nature written on the last day of class by a student:

Forgive us. We should have taken better care of you. We should have cherished your beauty like we were supposed to. We could have looked out at the infinite ocean, the mighty mountains, and the powerful sky and thought of more than just ourselves. Your seas have turned black. The mountains are thinner. The sky is being ripped apart. Mother, I’m sorry. But we will fight for you, Mother. We will defend you, and keep you beautiful. I will forever love your powerful seas. The flowers and trees, the birds and trees, the magic in, out, and behind everything that is you. Thank you for giving me life, and letting me share all your beauty and wonder with those that I love.
Thank You,

Take a look at even more pictures from this CAP class by clicking here!

Stay tuned for updates from a new quarter of CAP at New Vista High School in September 2013!

Categories: Community Adventure Program, Cottonwood Institute News

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