Before Cottonwood Institute takes students out for winter field days, they have to practice what they preach and teach. An eager group of CI veterans and newcomers met up early on a Saturday morning, packed lunches, and then packed themselves into CI’s shiny new van and drove to Caribou Ranch Open Space in Nederland for a day of winter skills training. Each instructor was evaluated on their winter driving habits along the way. (Good news- we have a great and attentive group of drivers!)
Once at the trailhead, everyone strapped on snowshoes, loaded up a sled full of gear, and trudged out to find the deepest snow they could. The group worked together to build a primitive snow shelter called a quinzhee, and practiced building pan fires. In between activities, they played games and learned tips and tricks from one another to keep students warm when the weather is not.
After piling up snow for the quinzhee and letting it settle, everyone took turns digging out the shelter. Even with very fine, powdery snow, the staff built one big enough to hold eight instructors inside! The structure supported three people standing on top of it before it caved in.
All of the instructors are excited for the upcoming winter field days where they will get to share the knowledge and skills built at this training with students from area middle and high schools. With the right equipment and instructors, Cottonwood Institute will make playing outside in the winter a fun and fulfilling experience for anyone who is up to the challenge.
Written by CI Instructor Adam Fedyski
See more photos and videos from the trip here!