To help launch the Cottonwood Institute‘s year-long Three Trees and a River Project, a group of adventurous 6th graders from West Denver Prep braved the cool mountain air for a special fall weekend camping trip. Despite the fact that many students had never been camping before, they jumped right in to an action packed weekend with activities designed to connect with nature, practice wilderness survival skills, and hone their leadership skills.
With gusts of snow falling on the surrounding peaks, the group stayed dry while practicing sensory awareness skills through camouflage and predator-prey games and exploring native trees in the valley. After giving thanks that the recent fire ban was lifted, students gathered wood and learned several different techniques for making fire. Aspen leaves swirled around us as one student tirelessly worked on his one-match bundle, repeating encouraging words, “to live, or live not.” Indeed shelter and warmth is a top survival priority and we all rejoiced as the flames grew higher!
A highlight for the enthusiastic bunch just before Halloween was the haunted night hike where we used our night vision to explore an abandoned cabin. A forest friend hooted at us in the distance and the students responded to the great horned owl by the light of a full moon. All spooks aside, the next day we returned from a sit spot activity and found a patch of Osha root to harvest for a medicinal post-lunch tea. For this group, learning outside was a breeze and we thanked our new circle of friends for sharing stories and lots of laughs.
In particular, we are grateful for West Denver Prep for making this opportunity available to their students and to their teacher Leigh Garrison for spearheading this program at their school. Cottonwood instructors Clark Patton, Kristin Maharg and instructor-in-training Tim Joynt did an excellent job putting together a phenomenal course. Finally, we would like to thank all of the participants and donors from the 2010 Cornhole Throwdown who helped raise money for this project.
This article was written by Kristin Maharg and edited by Ford Church.