Seven students from STRIVE Prep-Federal joined two of their teachers and two Cottonwood Instructors for a backpacking overnight at White Ranch Open Space in Golden. Before the group even left the parking lot, a student urged leaders to extend the Wednesday/Thursday trip into Friday!
After dividing personal and group gear into packs, the students began the hike. The mile-long uphill trail to the camping site in the heat of the day proved challenging to the 7th graders. But that challenge and afternoon rains did not discourage their enthusiasm for the experience. After the hike, students re-energized with lunch and set up camp. Later on, the students, all hide-and-seek enthusiasts fell in love with the Camouflage variation of the game. After afternoon downtime, students learned the basics of fire making and practiced creating their own from flint and steel. As a team, they built a fire that perfectly set the scene for scary stories, roasted marshmallows, and s’mores. Others pitched in with dinner prep, and everyone enjoyed Pizza Rice around the fire. That night offered great views of the Milky Way and the city lights of Denver before bedtime.
Some students awoke early enough to see the sunrise over Denver the next day, and all broke camp quickly enough to enjoy oatmeal. A shelter-building activity provoked a thorough debate on whether it was more important for a survival shelter to offer protection against bears or weather. Collecting sticks and rocks, students designed and then presented their shelters. The game “Who Stole My Flaming Dead Red Monkey?” where students tried to steal a hacky sack without its defender identifying the culprit, challenged students’ sneakiness and teamwork. After lunch, the group hiked back to the van. Along the way, one student said he wished the 8th grade class trip was with Cottonwood Institute too!
A big thanks to White Ranch Open Space for their continued support of our programming!
Written by Field Instructor Rose Conry
See more photos from our trip here!