As Cottonwood Institute prepares for the next season of trips, CI instructors and staff spent a training weekend building community, skills, and a shared mission.
Bright and early Saturday morning, we loaded up in the CI van and drove into Bear Creek Lake Park. We spent the day at the Sunset Amphitheater where the clouds and chilly weather fooled some of us into being too relaxed with our sunscreen. While munching on some delicious donuts, we reviewed the history and why of CI with Ford. We then set out on a short hike, where we each paired up with someone we didn’t know well yet and shared an experience in an outdoor setting that had been impactful to us, exploring the elements of these powerful programs and how we can include those elements in our work at CI. Empowered with new connections, we took some time to review CI’s risk management culture with Andrew.
After refueling with lunch, we refreshed some hard skills with Ford, Adam, and Jared, including one-match fires and navigation. Later in the afternoon, Chelsea and Adam led us through some potential field scenarios. We talked about creating spaces where every student feels safe and affirmed through the lens of JEDI (justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion), as well as how to apply Mental Health First Aid techniques to support students. We then headed back to our cars to get a good night sleep and prepare for another full day.
We spent Sunday on the banks of the beautiful Bear Creek Reservoir. As hawks flew between the cottonwood branches over our heads, we reviewed CI’s logic model and short term outcomes with Katie V. We then participated in interactive lessons led by CAP instructors Chelsea, Adam, Katie M, and Erin, and discussed ways to embed environmental justice into every CI activity. We ended the day with reflections, exploring ways to bring the positive energy of the weekend back with us when we left.
After a largely virtual and isolating year, with the majority of social interactions happening through screens, being able to spend time in person and intentionally build community brought much needed renewal and energy. We left training empowered with CI’s mission, equipped with some new skills, and excited to lead the next season of CI programs.
Written by CI Instructor Barbara Ramsdell
See more photos from the weekend here!