June 10-14 Bikes and Boats!

What a busy and fun-filled week we had.  We began our adventures with two days of mountain biking at La Tierra.  The kids got to try cross-country riding, learned how to brake, climb and descend.  We talked about the Ready Position, and used our new knowledge on the Flow Trail and the Wee Whoops. In the afternoon we spent some time trying out the small jumps in the terrain park, and then playing Capture the Flag and Baby Squirrel, among other games, when we needed a break from the sun and heat of riding.

On Wednesday we packed up and headed to Abiquiu Lake for two days of kayaking, swimming, jumping into the water, fishing, eating, playing games, story telling, singing, and sleeping!  Everyone challenged themselves to jump off the rocks into the water at their own level.  It was impressive to watch the kids expand their perceived limits and try something new. The photos tell all!

Steve, our kayaking guide, led the keen kayakers for a good long kayaking along the shore of the lake.  Most campers had been kayaking before, and several were trying it for the first time.

We returned to Santa Fe Thursday with time for an ice cream stop at Bode’s, a sweet reward after all of our fun in the sun.

The Friday Finale was a great day to play games at the Big T. Everyone was tired from camping and a low-key day was the perfect way to round out our action-packed week!

June 3-7: Wilderness Skills with Overnight Campout

What a busy and fun week we had!  On our first day we made mini-survival kits and headed out to the Beaver Ponds where we hiked, played Eagle Eye (a sneaking and hiding camouflage game), climbing the perfect climbing tree, learning how to use a compass and a topographic map, and found fossils on the walk back to the van. Phew!  

Day Two started with a discussion of Leave No Trace principles by Annie, our very own LNT Trainer!  After snack and games we headed up to the Norski Trails where we learned how to build survival shelters and then made our own in small groups. As we hiked, we had fun playing many types of games, shared by counselors and campers alike. (Thank you, Ella for bringing your repertoire:). We enjoyed singing The Bear Song and Bats Eat Bugs on the trail and in the van.

Day Three was our big camping day.  With storms on the horizon there was a question about whether we would be able to sleep in our shelters.  We prepared for the storm by setting up tents, a group tarp, and gathering firewood and putting it under a tarp.  Once we were ready for the evening and prepared for the storm, we worked on our shelters, made survival bracelets and enjoyed many rounds of Meet-A-Tree.  

Back at the camp, we learned about fire-making and made a warming fire for us to gather around. Then the rain came for a short time during dinner, when we retreated to the group tarp for Nacho-making, and a short stint in our tents. After the rain, we were able to emerge for a perfect evening around the fire of stories, songs and laughter.  

Our last full day together we made water filters and talked about a variety of ways to purify water in the wilderness, an important skill! We practiced filtering water with a gravity filter on our hike down the Winsor Trail to the Rio en Medio.  The campers were eager for more Meet-a-Tree so we partnered up for this fun sensory game again before we gathered to share our appreciations of the week. We then brainstormed the many uses for a bandana and each camper was gifted a bandana to take home.

What a wonderful week and a great group of campers!  Thank you all for making this such fun!

June 3-7 Forts & Forests

Our summer camp started beautifully with a green and lush forest to explore, finding special places within which to make finely engineered forts and shelters. The dandelion flowers have been abundant and we have all learned that they’re not only edible but delicious, too! (I suppose, that also depends on who you ask;) Each child made a homemade first-aid kit with the use of ‘Altoids’ tins to carry along with them for the week. The children used their first-aid kits at least once for some important concern; though, some children used theirs a whole lot more than others!

As we ventured through the week we learned how to stay S.A.F.E.R out in the woods – learning and remembering what each of the letters stands for, bringing awareness to how we might avoid getting lost in the first place and what to do if it happens. ‘S’ is for “STOP and Stay Put!” We also figured out how useful it is to have an assigned ‘buddy’ each day to help us, cheer us on, and relay messages to Counselors when needed. Kindness and attentiveness to each other, along with safety, was a theme this week for our group.

Several days in a row we passed Black Tail Deer in the same spot on Hyde Park Road as we drove up for our adventures. We now call that area “Deer Crossing.” There was an exciting sighting of a woodpecker during a quiet moment in our hike – all the children observed this loud bird with rapt attention and something akin to awe. Games were never too far from our minds with the desire to be the next eagle for Eagle Eye or the next sardine for, you guessed it, Sardines!

A splendid week spanning the cooler weather with increasing warmth. Thanks for a great week, campers – summer, here we come!

 

May 28-31 Backcountry Service Trip

Our first ever Backcountry Service trip was a great success! The best part, according to most, was the incredible food.  Thanks to the Backcountry Horsemen and Kevin Balciar, we ate like kings and queens. My son’s comment was: “We eat better here than we do at home, Mom!”  (Sadly, there is some truth to that, especially this time of year!;)

Other highlights included learning to build a Tyrolian Traverse to cross the raging Pecos River for our commute to work each day. Afterward, we discovered there was a log bridge which was quite handy, but it was nice to have learned this skill and fun to zip across the river to work in the morning.

We spent our first day out there getting settled, enjoying the beauty around us, building the traverse and playing games such as Eagle Eye and Ninja.  The boys worked together to build a fire, which was difficult at first, but they got better as the days progressed. They became skilled at building with damp wood, and finding dry wood when most of the wood was damp.

On Days 2 and 3 we got to work on the trails. Pete Prince from the Santa Fe Fat Tire Society, led us in the trail work, which involved finding and rolling large boulders into place to create high spots on the trail to prevent erosion.  We built water bars and trimmed trees and shrubs to accommodate the wide and tall load of equestrian traffic. It was hard work, but we were blessed with some nice cool days and clouds, ample food and water, and a spirited hard-working group.  

We hiked to Cave Creek after work on the third day. It was a beautiful walk with so many wildflowers in bloom and the Pecos River raging. On the way back the rain started to fall and we were blessed with a wonderful thunderstorm shortly after we arrived back to our tents. A perfect moment to relax in our tents and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Our evenings were spent around the fire where we made up stories during a story circle, played games, ate s’mores, and shared appreciations.   

We are so grateful to Pete, Kevin and the Backcountry Horsemen for making this trip possible and so delicious.  Thank you to the kids who came and worked hard to improve our trails. They have learned some new skills, and no doubt, a newfound appreciation for our trails.

Wild School – Winter Musings: Bears, Eagles, and Snow, Oh My!

This Winter in Santa Fe has brought our mountains bright and beautiful blessings of moisture! White gold for our desert. We have had many wonder-filled days playing outdoors, enjoying the snow – sledding, playing running games to stay warm, and learning about our local animals. Outdoor education is fun!

As we are traipsing around the mountains of Santa Fe this month and early into February, there may be some female Black Bears giving birth to a new generation of young cubs. Bears are incredible for many reasons, one of these is their ability to store enough ‘white’ fat and ‘brown’ fat in their bodies after summer and fall harvesting to last a good 4 to 5 months without eating. When you add suckling one or two cubs to that, I am in awe! – Such magic and mystery afoot!

Learn more about North American Black Bears here.

Stories are a guiding light in the inquiries our children hold and bring forth to explore. Last week Jaengus shared some lovely pieces of curiosity about the penguins in Antarctica so, naturally we pursued a sled trip through those cold, white lands. Ice fishing here, learning some snowboarding techniques there, finding safe places for eagles to perch, feed from and raise young, all the while pulling our expedition gear ourselves in sturdy sleds!

On Tuesday we furthered our understandings of Eagle behavior, how parent eagles look after and feed their young and of course, how they teach their young to perch, fly and catch prey on their own. Paloma was a wonderful eagle chick for Sevi and Giselle to hatch and raise.

Last Thursday took us to Aspen Vista where Alejandro, Liat and I got out on snow shoes in search of a place to make snow caves. We worked out that if you ‘quack’ while walking on snow shoes, you really do look like a duck with big feet waddling along! Such fun.

Our snow caves were still small when we left our special spot,  but we laid branches and tiles of crusty snow over them to create a place for snow to accumulate without filling the homes back up again. We’ll discover what has happened when we visit the spot again this coming week.  We love the always-changing conditions of our mountains, especially in a winter so rich in snow. It makes everyday a new adventure. 

Wonders of Water – August 2018

The Wonders of Water was the absolute perfect theme for our very last week of camp this year. With excitement at its peak, we had a blast all week long, playing our favorite games and enjoying the highly anticipated swimming at our favorite lakes and rivers.

Location, Location, Location!

keeping_cool

We explored the Santa Fe Ski Basin, Deer Creek, Santa Cruz Lake, and the infamous Abiquiu lake! Our primary objective was to get as wet as possible to celebrate the end of summer – our campers dug their fingers deep into the damp soil and absolutely covered the counselors in mud at every opportunity. They said they were giving us mud tattoos, but we knew better than that.

Fun Activities

 

Some of our highlights this week included mushroom hunting at the Santa Fe ski basin (with strict guidelines!) and jumping into Abiquiu Lake. We made earthworm rock castles, built the best dams and bridges of the summer, learned the importance of water filtration (and how to do it), and ended the week with a lively social with lots of snacks – fruits and veggies, chips and guac, and popsicles… Oh my!

This summer we laughed, made friends, and created memories for our Mountain Kids! to remember for years to come. We hope to see you all soon – many thanks! for a fantastic summer.  – JR, Max, Carmen, Katie, Keifer, and Morgan
For upcoming cames or additional information please check out our Program page!

Muddy Buddies – July 2018

The Muddy Buddies week is highly anticipated by our campers and counselors alike, and this year did not disappoint! With the heavy monsoon rain becoming more and more frequent, all of our favorite trails have been transformed into muddy wonderlands with endless possibilities!

5 to 7-year-olds

Challenging our Mountain Kids! to dig a descending mudslide into a knee-deep mud pit in Galisteo, mud tattoos, mud painting the counselors, and of course “who can get the muddiest?” contests are few of the many highlights of our week. We visited the Santa Fe ski basin, Deer Creek, Galisteo, and Santa Cruz Lake as our filthiest destinations, with Galisteo being the choice location for mud deep enough to fully submerge in! Ski Santa Fe and Deer Creek offered some nice hikes and were great, beautiful places to play games and enjoy stream-side mud, whereas Santa Cruz lake was an amazing place to get as muddy as possible along the lakeshore and have the option to clean off during a relaxing swim afterward. When we weren’t playing in the mud, making natural clay pots and bowls were a great pastime.

Mud fights broke out numerous times throughout the week and it was impossible not to get caught in the crossfire! All week our campers took being “clean” as overrated, so it might take the entire weekend and multiple showers for these kids to regain their usual skin tones and hair colors. One more week left of the summer for us Mountain Kids! and we’re aiming for it to be one of the best yet!

8 to 12-year-olds

Muddy Buddies was the goofiest, dirtiest, most fun week of Mountain Kids! yet. The week consisted of getting gloriously muddy, rinsing, and repeating. Our muddiest locations were Galisteo Creek and Santa Cruz lake, both of which were muddier than you can imagine! You imagination may not even bee enough, the photos will speak for themselves! Our kids were knee deep in the dirt, slipping and sliding around, camouflaging themselves, wrestling, and making fabulous creations out of clay. Close behind these mud havens were Deer Creek (where we got to do some fantastic swimming in watering holes that, while they were dry a few weeks ago, are now full to the brim) and Ski Santa Fe, where we were playing in the muddy headwaters of the Rio En Medio. Our week ended poignantly with some of our favorite Mountain Kids! returning to their home state! 🙁 Thankfully we get to see them next year 🙂

For future camps, check out our programs page!

Secret Language of Birds and Bugs! – July 2018

Our campers LOVED “The Secret Language of Birds and Bugs” week! What a natural theme to enjoy at our favorite Mountain Kids! locations.

5 to 7-year-olds

On Monday we adventured to the Beaver Ponds, where we had Wade Harrell from The Harrell House Bug Museum identify all the bugs we found during our hours of bug hunting! We split downed tree trunks, looked under dead bark, meandered through tall grass, and still never ceased to see new, exciting creatures!

On Tuesday we hiked up Deer Creek, where our campers would sum up our day with one word: MUD! A beautiful hike through mud, a nice picnic in mud, games in mud – nothing but mud! Tuesday called for some great photos and tons of dirty fun.

Wednesday and Thursday were also great! We paired a lot of active games with education and opportunities to see some extraordinary creatures. We began Wednesday with some rejuvenating swimming and courageous rock jumping for the daring at Abiquiu Lake and ended with a trip to the Santa Fe Raptor Center. Here we saw such beautiful birds all up close! Some of our favorites were the Bald and Golden Eagles, and Barn Owls – so pretty.

Thursday, we played hours of Capture the Flag down the Little Tesuque trail! Such fantastic teamwork and equally impressive strategies were on display from both groups. By the time we were all covered in sweat and fishing twigs our of our hair, it was time to head over to the Harrell House Bug Museum to see their widely impressive 4000+ bugs on display! Our bravest campers even held a furry tarantula, a colossal millipede and more!

8 to 12-year-olds

This was a week and a half at Mountain Kids! Our week was filled with (unsurprisingly) bugs and birds, as well as an insane amount of water play! On Monday, a local entomologist helped us hunt unusual insects at the beaver ponds, and we managed to get our kids home with a thousand-year storm at our heels. Fueled by that rain, we went to our favorite swimming holes at Deer Creek on Tuesday. We got wet and muddy exploring the recently flooded wash and the waterfalls that had come to life with the excess of rainwater.

On Wednesday, we did even MORE swimming in Abiquiu Lake and went to the Santa Fe Raptor Center. This was a new location for Mountain Kids!, and it rocked! None of us (as far as I know) had ever been so close to owls and eagles before. On Friday, we had a leisurely day of capture the flag and dam building at Little Tesuque and rounded out the week at the Harrell House Bug Museum.

Whew! What a week. See you next time!

Thanks to everyone that participated in our Secret Language of Birds and Bugs week. The counselors had just as much fun as we hope all of our campers did. Until next week Mountain Kids!