On a warm winter day in February, the second trimester AXL Academy CAP class set out to find peace on their first overnight trip together to Bear Creek Lake Park. The students were buzzing with excitement all morning to be headed out on a field trip, missing a day of school, and sleeping in cabins. After a short ride from Aurora to Lakewood, the students along with their Cottonwood Institute instructors arrived to the park, their home away from home for the night. Before settling in at the campsite, we did a drive through of the park taking in the various sights. Students noted the many activities offered at the park, such as horseback riding and archery. Many noted that they would like to bring their families back to the park. We stopped in at the visitors center, gathered maps and set out to see our digs for the evening!
Once we arrived at the cabins, the students couldn’t wait to get inside and check them out! We had a bit of time before our official check in time, so we decided to go on a hike. One student, playfully dubbed by the students as “Captain Melbin”, followed the map and led us down the trails. We did a giant loop taking in all of the frozen water along the way. The students found a shallow flowing creek and spent a while laughing, sitting along the water and hopping from bank to bank. After hiking, it was time for lunch and of course the students were anxious to finally get into the cabins. They set up their spaces and spent the afternoon playing in the spaces around us. Some students chose to play frisbee, while others spent their time at the playground on site.
In the evening, students tried their hand at bow-drill fire making. Afterwards, a few students cooked a yummy dinner of pizza rice. After dinner we went on a night hike; many students found it to be completely unfamiliar and eerie to be outside in complete darkness. We completed the evening spending time together around a campfire and a lot of s’mores and hot cocoa!
The next morning we were greeted by much chillier conditions than the day before! We packed on the layers and enjoyed a breakfast of oatmeal, yogurt, and hot tea. After filling up, we spent some time getting ready and cleaning our cabins before heading out for our adventure of the day. As a special treat, we were allowed the opportunity to spend the day at the Denver Botanic Garden at Chatfield, which was just a short drive away. At the gardens we hiked to see all of the beaver activity along the creeks. While we saw a lot of dams, and other signs of beavers; students were a little disappointed to not have seen the beavers themselves. As it warmed up into the afternoon, we ate lunch, had more time for Frisbee, and celebrated the birthday of a student with cookies and song. We finished with some quiet peaceful reflection through sit spots and shared a final closing circle together as a group before heading back to school.
A special thank you to the staff at the Chatfield Botanic Gardens for their generous hospitality!
See more photos from our trip here!
Written by CAP instructor Vicki Whisenhunt