Digging into the Past, Week 2: Arroyo Hondo (both groups)

We are so lucky to have such a wealth of knowledge in our community. Jay Shapiro is a retired archeologist who did his PhD thesis on the Arroyo Hondo site.  This the second year he has given our kids a private tour.  His comment about our campers is that “They ask better questions than adults do!”  He is always impressed with the level of engagement of our campers.  We found lots of pottery shards, several matates used for grinding corn, and a couple of arrow heads.

We learned that we never, ever take things from an archeological site, and that it is best to leave things where they are found, not collect them in one place.  By collecting them, they lose their value to archeologists, because the place they are found is a significant part of the story.

After our tour we had lots of time for lunch and play!  A great end to a fun week of digging into the past!

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Digging into the Past, Week 2: Ghost Ranch (both groups)

Ghost Ranch is an amazing resource near Santa Fe, and Alex Downs, the now-retired Paleontologist, is a true gem!  He came out of retirement to spend time with the kids making plaster casts of dragons, T-rex teeth and claws. Afterwards he gave them a tour of the paleontology museum, answering their questions, sharing some of his wealth of knowledge, and showing them what a paleontoligist does. His great sense of humor and silliness combined with his knowledge provides the perfect recipe for engagement of the kids.

After lunch, some of the campers chose to go for a hike up to the dry river bed, while others did an archeology activity, painting their own miniature pottery replicas, followed by a scavenger hunt in the archeology museum.  The hikers came back covered in mud, as they had found a little bit of water in the river, while the others left with another sweet momento of our learning and fun-filled day at Ghost Ranch!

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Digging into the Past Week 2, 8-12 Year olds, Abiquiu Lake Campout

While our young Megalodons explored the Beaver Ponds, the Peregrine Falcons were setting up camp at Abiquiu Lake for the night. With thunder and lightning swirling around the area, swimming was cut short in favor of safety and lots of games under our group shelter.

We made a delicious dinner of bean and cheese burritos, sausages, carrots, and s’mores over the campfire.  After dinner, the threat of lightning had finally subsided, so we digested our food and then headed down for a little night swimming. So fun! Swimming in the early evening is such a treat!  It was still light out, but the heat of the day was gone and we had the place (almost) to ourselves!

We closed out our evening with a campfire where we told stories, and riddles.  It was a great spontaneous sharing by many of the campers and brought lots of laughs. A perfect wind-down to a fun day!

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Digging into the Past Week 2: Petroglyph Site & Fossil Hunting

We started our week with an archeological dig at Alto Park, where we sectioned off a 10×10 patch of park, just like archeologists do, to see what we could find.  We found a lot of trash, which is certainly telling about our society!  We discussed what archeologists do, and how they essentially are also looking for ancient trash, called artifacts. We talked about how archeologists work together with geologists, paleontologists and paleobotanists to dig into the past.

After games, art, circle, and snack we headed out to the petroglyph site on airport road to see some authentic evidence of our past. It was fun decipher the pictures to try to figure out what they were trying to say about their lives. Afterwards, the older campers (who had decided to be Peregrine Falcons this week), headed to Base Camp to make their own petroglyph tablets, do some archery, and run through the sprinkler to cool off!  The Megalodons, our 5-7 year old group, went back to Alto Park to play games in the shade. It was a hot and fun day to start our week of Digging into the Past!

Day 2 took the Megalodons to the Beaver Ponds to go fossil hunting. We found a lot of fossils in the rocks there and discussed on how they got there.  We hiked onward to the Santa Fe River to cool off and play in the water. Katie arrived to lead us in a game of Eagle Eye, a fun game of hiding and sneaking. Back at the park we wrapped up the day with a game of Frog Detective. Another fun day of digging into the rich past of the Santa Fe area!

Please enjoy the photos below of the 5-7 year olds.

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July 6th: Digging into the Past, Tsankawi, Bandelier National Monument

Tsankawi is always a magical place to visit, even on a hot, hot day like today!  Days like today make us all appreciate water, and it’s importance, especially in light of visiting the former homes of the pueblo people who lived here 600-800 years ago. What hardship they must have endured to survive in this raw, beautiful land!

The caves we awesome to cool off in, eat our lunch, listen to a story and some flute music by Katie.  After lunch we had a blast exploring all the caves, the amazing “stairs” and the grooved paths, worn down by hundreds of years of use.

What a great way to finish off our week of Digging into the Past!  Thanks to a great group a kids for a wonderful time exploring a bit of New Mexico’s fascinating history.

Enjoy the photos of our great group of Mountain Kids!

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July 5th, 2017: Digging into the Past, Week 1: Base Camp

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This morning after games and clay, we gathered up to learn about Pictograph stories. We started by “reading” a Native American story that was made with pictographs. It was fun to guess what the pictures meant, and when we read it in words, we realized we were pretty close! While we ate snack, we came up with our own Mountain Kids! pictograph story, by each adding one sentence and 1-3 pictures. It was fun and we were glad that the story had a happy ending!

Then we went to Mountain Kids! base camp where we were planning to make paint with the rocks we had collected and try our hand at archery. We all gathered round the fire pit, sang some songs and played a game before Katie demonstrated how to make paint with our colorful rocks. It was quite fun and relaxing to grind up the rocks using the “manos and matates” and then sift and make paint.  We each made a different color and then painted our own special pot or a rock.

Archery was a great challenge for everyone. Morgan carefully instructed each of the kids on how to be safe on an archery range and how to shoot a bow and arrow. Hitting the target alone was a great achievement! We learned how skilled the ancient peoples must have been and gained a lot more respect for their lifestyle.

After lunch, some tried out the slack line and others climbed trees then we played Mountain Lion-Deer Chase in the forest which was exciting and fun, running through the forest, sneaking and hiding. Afterward, Morgan taught us a fun game called Zip Zap Zop! when it started to rain hard enough that we took cover under the portal.

Back at Alto Park, we played Park Ranger for even longer than we should have because we were having so much fun! Thanks all, today was a splendid day for Mountain Kids!

~ written by Page Bancroft

July 4th: Digging into the Past, Week 1: Pecos National Monument

Tuesday was enjoyable and very informative for everyone! We had a calm morning of making clay sculptures, playing a few games, a snack, and then started on our journey to Pecos National Monument.

Pecos is impeccably beautiful, and contains the history of the Native Americans, Spanish settlers, and a Civil war site.  Amazing! Though it was hot, there were lovely clouds all day long that provided perfect relief!

We went through the main trail and stopped at every point to read, talk, and listen to the speculations and facts about the area. We learned what a descendant is, what a kiva is, and what the ancient people who used to live there were like. It was fascinating to climb into the Kiva and see the ruins and the old church built by the Franciscan monks.

After hiking the trail, we had the great treat of watching a very short film about Pecos and its history over the last few thousand years. Then we fully explored the museum and noticed many wonderful objects and beautiful art. 

We finished up our last bits of food in some nice shade and listened to a Native American story. Then into the van we went, listening to James and The Giant Peach all the way home. Arriving back at Alto Park we played Park Ranger until everyone had to go home. What a sweet day outdoors for all!

~ written by Page Bancroft

July 3, 2017: Digging into the Past, Week 1, Galisteo Basin

Today was an adventurous, hot and muddy day, and boy did we have fun! The morning was mellow with all the new campers shuffling in. Some decided to make the art project which was nature journals and some decided to play Park Ranger.

We circled up afterwards and had a great time playing a name game, and learning how to stay safe and have fun at camp. Next up was eating our snack while hearing an incredible story about archeology. We talked about how to be archeologists, and our plans for the week ahead. We then got ready to load into Steve, our adventure van. After water bottle re-fills, bathroom breaks and buckling, we were ready to hit the road!

The day began with some good clean fun, and ended with the joyful abandon of bug catching, mud slides and mud balls!

We arrived at the Galisteo Basin excited to see what we could find. Specifically we were looking for colorful rocks to make paint with, clay, and other clues to the past.

First off on the trail we found an old still working windmill! It was so neat to see it pump water up from the ground with wind power right before our very eyes. Back on the trail, we soon found an entire old ruin, a perfect find to practice being archeologists! We looked for clues about what this old ruin might have been and made some educated guesses. We also found what we thought were bells from a distance, and turned out to be a complete mystery when examined up close. (See photo, ideas about what this is are welcome!)

Afterwards, we happily trotted down the trail until we began to descend into a tiny canyon that had really unique and interesting rock formations. The colors kept changing from pure white to dark burgundy, to yellow ochre and varying shades of browns, greens and blacks. After finding many specimens of different colors, we ate our lunches and chatted about fun things.

Then off to the river, which was a short drive down the road to Galisteo, a tiny cute town with a beautiful river running through it. In this spot we found an excellent area of deep clay for making things and playing. The kids mostly enjoyed playing in the river, collecting bugs and tadpoles, making mudslides and mud balls and other imaginative and joyful activities!

After such wet, muddy fun there were lots of clothes to change! After putting on dry clothes, we drove home, laughing and smiling the whole way. What a fun day and an awesome group of kids.  We are looking forward to more historical and playful adventures in the week ahead!

Enjoy some photos of the day below.  More to come! 🙂

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