There are many signs of early spring in March in the Front Range. As we anticipate more snow in the mountains, crocuses emerge in town, the days start lengthen, and lakes begin to thaw. Cottonwood Institute (CI) spring instructor training indicates the shift in season. CI instructors transition from winter field-days to spring overnights next month. Our training prepares them to brave the unpredictable weather of April and May and the skills they need to lead groups of middle and high school students who are often experiencing camping for the first time.
This 2018 spring instructor training, much like the last several years, took place at Cal-Wood Education Center just outside of Jamestown, CO. Spring weather can be fickle and at about 8,000 feet elevation you never know what March will bring. CI staff and instructors have been very lucky the last several years in having fine weather and warm days this first weekend of March for our training.
This year, in addition to the usual risk management review, talk about new protocols, and discussions about group dynamics and service learning, we added a few things. Administration and Logistics Coordinator Vicki Whisenhunt and Instructor Zach Booz led a great session on classroom and group management. New Vista High School Community Adventure Program instructor, Amy Atkins, led a discussion about CI philosophy and goals for overnight camping trips. Program Director, Madeline Bachner, led a session on inclusion and cultural storytelling. And, for the first time, the CI staff and instructors built a human pyramid for our annual group photo!
This year’s group is comprised of many veterans to CI and a wealth of knowledge from classroom teaching to outdoor skills. The instructors enjoyed the weekend of learning and connections. On Saturday evening as the coyotes came out to sing, and the massive waning moon rose over the hills of the Front Range, everyone was in awe of this amazing place we get to teach in and about. Cottonwood Institute instructors are ready to take on the challenges and adventures of this spring’s trip season and introduce yet another group of fantastic students to the wonders of the natural world and the mountains we live so close to.
Many thanks to Cal-Wood Education Center and all the CI instructors for their time and attention!