Rushing creeks and energetic boys from Longmont’s Casa De La Esperanza housing community (Casa) crisscrossed the property of Beaver Ponds Environmental Education Center this summer. As part of CI’s Community Adventure Program (CAP), the boys explored the high-altitude evergreen forests, captured bugs, fed barnyard animals, spotted beavers, and made medicinal balms.
At first glance, the swift waters of Sacramento Creek appeared free of aquatic creatures, but the Casa crew found the opposite. Looking under rocks and swinging nets in the creek, the boys collected several different types of insects. Under the microscope, the tiny bugs squirmed, and with help, the boys identified mayflies and beetles.
Soon the students’ attention drifted away from the insects to something red lurking underneath the water. A backpack stuffed with gold, perhaps? The students took turns trying to move the object stuck in the muddy bottom. At first, hooks and nets proved ineffective. The suspense grew. What could be so stubbornly set at the bottom of the creek? They persisted, and pulled out a rusty camp cooler. Not the treasure they wanted, but one that provided a memorable and rewarding challenge.
After refueling on a Cottonwood classic, pizza rice, the boys helped the center’s barnyard animals to some dinner. They fed hay and barley to lots of animals; a llama, alpacas, goats and chickens. Beaver Ponds harvests fibers from the llama, alpacas and goats and collects eggs from its chickens. Of the farm animals, the students found the goats the most friendly. One, Jelly Bean acted like the family dog; he loved it when they pet him.
The group followed the setting sun west along the Sacramento Creek to a pool where beavers lived. In the dimming light, a few caught glimpses of North America’s largest rodents. We all appreciated the peaceful reflective observations.
Before returning to Longmont, the Casa crew learned about local plants and their medicinal properties. Yarrow slows backcountry bleeds. Calendula is nature’s hydrocortisone cream. With this knowledge, the students mixed herbal tinctures with cocoa and shea butter to create balms to remedy their ailments. When they returned home later that afternoon, they shared their medicinal lotions, silly stories and new knowledge from the weekend with their families.
Thank you to Beaver Ponds for their partnership!
See more photos from our trip here!
Written by Field Instructor Rose Conry