| Andrew Miller

New Vista CAP Adapts to a Virtual World

As so many of us have done these last 8 weeks or so, Cottonwood Institute needed to pivot and change how we do things in this age of physical distancing. The biggest concern for our instructors was: how do you turn an outdoor, environmental service learning class into a virtual experience?

Lucky for CI, experiential educators are used to being flexible, finding the teachable moment in any moment, and taking what comes—whether that’s getting caught in a huge storm or stumbling upon a grove of Aspens in the perfect, golden yellow. The CAP class at New Vista High School used nimble thinking to turn class into a virtual board game.

For their “missions” (assignments), students were asked to “do” “watch” and/or “read” about various ways to discover nature and themselves. One of these missions asked students to learn about the environmental impacts of alternative milks and make their own using ingredients we mailed them in “Thrival Kits” full of supplies. Based on data, including a taste test, each student determined the best “milk” for them. Another mission asked them to watch an exclusive screening of the new film The Story of Plastic and write a reflection on their experience. All together, students found ways to make the best of a very unusual CAP experience:

New Vista Virtual CAP classThe care package was lovely and a really fun way to add interactivity to the class. I think that the discussions were very helpful and full of input, and I overall am very glad I took this class. I think I can take the hope and the skills that I have learned through taking this class online to the world because this was kind of an underdog class, I mean, how do you take an outdoor class and put it inside. – CAP Student

The missions got students outside in various ways. One of the class’ favorite missions was a night hike where they learned about triboluminescence by munching on Wint-O-Green Life Savers. Students also loved the mission, created by a fellow student, to go outside and create an art piece using what you find.

I also think the missions helped me learn that I really do have to go outside as a part of my self-care routine, and I don’t think I realized that until now because it is usually just built into my daily life.  – Parrish, CAP Student

I think that this cap class, although inside, has made me re-immerse myself with nature. – CAP Student

The twice-weekly briefings (class meetings), were an opportunity to learn basic camping skills like tying knots and how to pack a pack, but moreso, they were a chance to find community at a time when it feels rare.

I have learned so much about my world and how I can do my part to protect the planet. CAP is very different from any other class I have taken. It is a class that survives on community, empathy, and participation and I am very impressed that it is offered at New Vista. – CAP Student

Overall, the ability to pivot, embrace and re-energize the class was hard and worthwhile.

I think this class gave me the boost of inspiration that I needed to be able to see what I want to do when I grow up and now to help nature and maybe find a career in it. – CAP Student

This experience has changed me by making me want to help the world a lot more now.  I also enjoy being outside much more than before, because I know a lot more about what’s around me. – CAP Student

CAP has inspired me to become more eco-friendly and fight for my planet. When I joined this class, I was looking to gain an understanding of how I can use my voice and actions to change not only my carbon footprint, but also help others, and I think I have learned just that from this class. I am excited to start making an impact because now is the time to start fighting for change, so I am very grateful CAP and Amy have shown me the way! – CAP Student

Written by New Vista High School CAP instructor Amy Atkins

Categories: CAP, Community Adventure Program, New Vista High School

Back to Blog

Comments are closed.