| Vicki Whisenhunt

STRIVE Prep – RISE Rises Above the Storm at Cherry Creek State Park

STRIVE PREP - RISE at Cherry Creek State ParkSpring snows almost left twenty-three CAP students at STRIVE Prep – RISE without a destination for their overnight.  But thanks to the quick work of the Cottonwood Institute administrative staff, we relocated to snow-free Cherry Creek State Park for a nearby camping trip that still felt worlds away from the daily grind for these high school freshmen. Cherry Creek State Park is right smack in the city.  How can an overnight in a city nature area really benefit our youth?

“Sometimes it’s stressful to be in a school environment and being in nature is a way to let everything out. There are many things we can learn about nature. Plants and trees aren’t just plants and trees: there is something that makes them special. For example, the cottonwood tree. It was fun learning about how when you cut a branch of the cottonwood tree in a specific way and the inside will show a star.” – Sarahi

Another RISE scholar says: “I like to learn new things about outdoors and plants and animals. I also like to be alone sometimes to sit out in nature and think about things. Something I discovered about myself was that I really like nature and being outdoors with my friends.”

Our trip serendipitously fell on the first ever Colorado Public Lands day.  As soon as we arrived at the park we had an opportunity to do a shore cleanup with park rangers and community members.  We pulled bottles out of a hole in a tree and picked up a winter’s worth of litter.  Several students said that this rewarding community endeavor was the favorite part of the weekend.

Other students loved the new skills they learned:SPR at Cherry Creek State Park
“On this trip I got to learn a lot of new things that can later help me in life.  I learned how to make a makeshift fishing pole out of a stick, rope, hook, cork, and bait. Another thing I learned was how to use a bow-drill to start a fire. I also got to try things that I usually don’t do or have never done, like trying pizza rice or fishing for the first time. “- RISE scholar

Or things they discovered about themselves:
“I learned that friendship is more about connecting on a personal level then just picking people to share a tent with.” – Rachel B.
“One big thing I learned about myself is that I am a lot more creative than I thought. When we were creating the emergency fishing line mine ended up being very different, but super functional at the same time. It made me realize that if I put effort into something it can turn into something magnificent and beautiful. We ended up catching a whopping amount of 2 fish but just the experience was enough to satisfy us. On top of all that, the fact that I was working with some of my classmates that I usually don’t interact with made it even more special.” – Gaurab
STRIVE Prep- RISE at Cherry Creek State Park

We rounded out the second day with a hike into Waterton Canyon, another metro destination that you might not think would be a rewarding nature experience.  Shania wrote about it in her reflection paper: ““LOOK! BIG HORNED SHEEP!” I shouted out in awe. There were babies and a mother. Two of the little sheep were playing tag.” And, “(It) was a magical moment in time when I found out that there is a star in cottonwood branches. It literally is a star in the middle of a dead branch. My mind was blown due to the fact that the mother nature had done this unique thing to a tree branch, a cottonwood. MIND BLOWN INTO PIECES.”  And Alex N. summed up the whole experience: “Just witnessing and exploring in nature gave me a sense to keep it clean so that more people in 100 years can see the beauty like I had the chance to.”

A big thank you to Cherry Creek State Park!
Check out more photos from our trip here!
Written by CAP class instructor Erin Angel

Categories: About CAP, CAP, Community Adventure Program, Cottonwood Institute News, Program News

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