| Sarah Rudeen

A Windy Autumn Backpacking Trip with STRIVE Prep – Federal

spf-2_10-4-5-2016_003During the first week of October, a select few students from STRIVE Prep – Federal braved the cold and the wind for an experience like no other! Ten middle schoolers, along with two STRIVE teachers and two Cottonwood instructors, spent two days at White Ranch Open Space, just west of Golden, CO. The first impressions we got were windy! Passing out clothes and packing backpacks in the parking lot was the first of a few unique challenges through which the students persevered. With gusts of wind close to 20 mph, the kids were helpful in retrieving flying gear. After we got each person packed up with crew gear, food, and warm layers, we began the scenic, uphill, one-mile trek. Within a few minutes after beginning to hike the pass up and over the ridge, most of us were stripping the layers we had just applied due to exertion and as a wind block. Most of the students had never been backpacking before, but they adjusted well to their packs and showed a lot of motivation to finish the hike!  

When we arrived at camp, we went straight for lunch and then began setting up camp. The STRIVE scholars showed off their critical thinking and team-building skills when assembling the tents and organizing their homes for the evening. We focused on nature with our first sit spot and then loosened up when we played a rowdy game of Camouflage. With the impending winter season the days are much shorter, so before we knew it, it was dinner time! Pizza rice was such a hit we had to make more rice for seconds and thirds. The boys took over most of the dinner cooking chores and the girls agreed to do dishes. Once everything was cleaned up and most smellables safely stored in the bear box, we began the art of s’more making. Unfortunately, due to the lack of rain and excessive wind, we were not allowed to have camp fires; instead, we used the blue flame from the backpacking stove to heat up our mallows. Once the night sky prevailed, the girls were the first retreat to the tent. Some of the boys even braved a round of a nighttime drum stalk! Those that did came away with a greater appreciation for the wildness of the night and also for their own instinct.

spf-2_10-4-5-2016_068The next morning, after a full night of sleep — or giggling for some — the girls were the first to be up and ready to start the day. They even beat the Cottonwood instructors! After we got the campsites and gear packed up, we broke our fast with yogurt, bagels, and oatmeal. That morning we opted for a hike up and around some cool outcroppings of rocks that we could spy across the valley. This was the pinnacle of most kids’ trip, and allowed them to harness their inner wildness more than anything we had done yet. It was so great to see them all truly inspired by the beauty of being immersed in nature! We were not ready to move when it was time to start heading home. We used a final sit spot as an opportunity to reflect on the past two days and it definitely sounded like there are going to be some repeat customers to White Ranch. We made the trek back down the ridge to a less-windy-than-yesterday parking lot. All of us were glad to be returning to our own beds, but these students have become more experienced because of an adventurous, though chilly, trip into the mountains; and thus can share their newfound courage with their families and friends as they return to their normal schedules.

A special thanks goes out to all of our supporters and funders that help make our partnership with STRIVE Preparatory Schools possible this school year, including: Ladd Foundation, Larrk Foundation, and PeyBack Foundation.

Written by: CI Instructor, Lauren Savelle

Want to see more photos from this adventure? Check out our Shutterfly share site: Click Here!


Categories: Program News, STRIVE Prep

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