The Community Adventure Program (CAP) students from New Vista High School in Boulder, CO gladly scurried to the mountains for their first overnight trip of the quarter last weekend! The group was more than ready to enjoy the CAP class outside classroom walls. Cottonwood Institute’s CAP program provides outdoor excursions throughout the quarter where students can be immersed in the natural world and through these experiences our hope is they feel empowered to make change in their schools and communities.
The trip started off on Saturday with a beautiful student-led hike to our campsite at White Ranch Open Space Park in Jefferson County, CO. The CAP class enjoyed their first backcountry lunch while taking in the views, overlooking the vast expanses of Denver. Upon finishing lunch, we took a short hiking excursion to the perfect “sit spot” location, full of rocky outcrops and grand views of the mountains. Once seated, the students were given a few minutes to soak in their surroundings, listen to the sounds around them, feel the cool breeze, and enjoy the change of scenery from their everyday lives. Many of the groups’ personal goals for the weekend included relaxing and taking a break from their normal routines.
One of the group goals for the weekend was to form a closer-knit group and have an opportunity to bond with one another. This was accomplished in many ways through fire-building, game time, hiking, and cook groups to name a few. Student leader Juliet, taught the students how to create fire using the flint and steel method. Most students successfully lit a cotton ball on fire and their faces lit up with pure excitement. Instructor and CAP teacher, Taryn Longberry, taught the students how to create fire through friction, using a bow drill set. It was a proud moment when student Luke partnered with student Jaden to create a large plume of smoke and lots of black, fire-ready punk.
During our trip instructors took advantage of a few teachable moments as they presented themselves. The students learned about the very soft and friendly plant called Mullein, often used as backcountry toilet paper and instructor Jessi Burg took a moment to talk about our decomposers in Colorado and their inability to break down foreign food scraps left behind by humans such as orange peels.
After a successful camp set-up, students went into their cook groups to make some scrumptious dinner! They maneuvered the camp stoves successfully, for many of them it was their first experience cooking in the backcountry. After dinner instructor Jessi read some classic wilderness ethics from Aldo Leopold’s, The Sand County Almanac and had a discussion about our wilderness and open space areas in Colorado. The students debated about the uses of these areas and what level of conservation they think is appropriate.
Later on, instructor Taryn led the group in learning their leadership styles with a team builder called “No-Doze Leadership”. It was an eye opener for many students to find out there’s not just one kind of leader and our CAP group varies in its leadership styles, including but not limited to, “Spontaneous Motivators” and “Architects & Analysts”. The remainder of the evening was spent around the fire with rich discussion about the CAP Action Project and the direction they want to take it. Students showed that they are willing to take ownership of this project and their experiences in CAP. More to come on the Action Project soon…
As we hunkered down for the night in cozy tents, the rain began to spatter and we
were peacefully put to sleep. We awoke to the sound of rain and snow still falling outside our tents, an unusual Colorado morning! A few ambitious students started a fire for the group early in the morning and impressed the instructors with their initiative and leadership. After packing up our tents, we enjoyed our breakfast over the fire and made the decision to begin hiking given the rainy conditions. The 2-mile hike challenged the students and tested their group mentality and team morale. Overall, they persevered with lots of singing and helped team members when needed along the way by carrying extra gear. They showed great strength and left no one behind. In the face of challenge, they stayed impressively positive. The sweat and hard work paid off and overall they exceeded their goals of bringing the group closer together and forming a stronger group culture. Congrats team and luckily for them, there’s still one more trip to go and an Action Project to complete! Woohoo! Stay tuned.