The KIPP Northeast Denver Leadership Academy CAP students experienced personal and physical challenges on their class overnight trip to Cal-Wood. Despite the difficulties, together we ultimately gained first-hand experience in the importance that teamwork has on the ultimate success of the group. The freshman crew of KIPP students started their Cal-wood camping trip off by exploring the nature area at Rocky Mountain National Arsenal. This was important in researching ideas on how to establish a nature area as part of their CAP project at school. Upon arriving at Cal-wood, students had the chance to teach a younger group of Cottonwood Institute campers about Leave No Trace principles through a fun game that had the entire group up and moving.
Afterwards, we set up camp and went for a long, challenging hike to a mica mine and even had the chance to explore the nearby creek bed. At points, the group was challenged with fatigue, varying fitness levels, and even frustration with one another. These challenges facilitated discussions about the importance of staying together for safety and of being understanding of one another. After dinner, students enjoyed s’mores around the campfire but were surprised to find a few spiders and ticks on gear. This led to tick checks throughout the group and discussions about the importance of zipping up tents to keep out small critters. While having ticks in the camp might have deterred most people from ever wanting to go camping again, the students seemed to handle the circumstances in stride. Upon waking up the next morning we fit in time for some more fun! Students packed up camp, ate breakfast and had the chance to practice their fire-making skills, including bow drill and flint-and-steel techniques.
Perhaps the greatest experience of the trip for many of the students came near its conclusion in the form of the group service project. Students were required to form a “firemen” line in order to pass firewood logs uphill through one another’s hands in order for the logs to be stacked for pick up along the road at a later date. In spite of challenges seeing eye-to-eye with one another at points during the trip, the service project forced them to work together. They had to figure out ways to work collaboratively, communicate with one another, and effectively pass the logs along to one another. Students quickly rose to the challenge as a team and were rewarded in their hard work with the very measurable result of multiple, large and neat stacks of firewood that spanned much of the road.
In driving the students back to Denver, I couldn’t help but notice with pride that while some students slept and others sang along together to songs on the radio, there was an undeniable sense of tired accomplishment in the air. There was a feeling that despite the challenges faced on the trip or the little disagreements that arose, this group of KIPP students had experienced it all together, in strength and solidarity with one another.
Written by Cottonwood Instructor Johnny English
Thank you to Cal-Wood for their continued partnership!
See photos from our trip here!