| Teagan Papke

New Vista High School CAP Students Get Wild – Learning by Becoming the Wild

Coyote or Kangaroo Rat: New Vista CAP Students Experience the Thrill of the Hunt (and the Joy of Play) at Betasso Preserve Field Day. Written by Instructor Amy Atkins.

Do you ever wonder what it feels like to be a kangaroo rat?
(Maybe right now, your brain took a hard right detour, and you are wondering what a kangaroo rat looks like. Maybe you are trying to imagine a rat with a pouch on two legs right now. But we digress…)
Or maybe you want to know what it feels like to be a coyote?

A CAP student participating in activities on the field day at Betasso PreserveIf you ever wanted to channel an animal’s energy or know what it feels like to hunt or be hunted, the New Vista High School CAP students got to have those feelings on our recent field day at Betasso Preserve. They played predator-prey, an invented game by Cottonwood Institute’s Associate Director Chelsea Tossing. It’s a cross between capture the flag, hide and seek, and science class that puts students at the center of the food chain to experience resource scarcity, what it feels like to be hunted (or to hunt), and play.

A CAP students participating in activities on the field day at Betasso PreserveAt Cottonwood Institute, we feel it is important to connect students to nature to inspire them to protect it. Our field days and all of our work center on this as our goal. However, just as important is a need to let teens “just be kids.” On field days, they get to run around and play and not take life too seriously for a day. The pressures of standardized testing, grades, and figuring out their future take a toll on students. Post-pandemic, we have seen this tenfold. Life is stressful.

A CAP students participating in activities on the field day at Betasso PreserveDon’t worry, the New Vista students also learned about restoration ecology, wildlife biology, and the sweet smell of ponderosa pines. Our skilled and seasoned instructors ensured that a lot of good environmental education was provided. We also know that balance in all things is crucial to healthy, thriving human beings. So, we played. We played hard. We played until we dropped to the ground to glug water from our water bottles. We played until we got enormous grins on our faces. We got to be coyotes and kangaroo rats and found the balance between learning and being.

Categories: CAP, New Vista High School, Program News

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