Muddy Buddies: Mud, Clay, and Camouflage! August 8-11, 2016

For our final week of the summer, Mountain Kids got MUDDY! We started the week making clay projects and playing games during our morning activities and spending the rest of the day hiking and playing at the Beaver Ponds. On Tuesday, we headed to Galisteo, where we played in, splashed in, and covered ourselves in the muddy clay. This spot was definitely the highlight of the week! Wednesday we explored Diablo Canyon. The Hummingbirds enjoyed playing on the rocks and digging in the dirt. The Owls found a small patch of mud, which they enjoyed playing in, and the Eagles hiked a total of 6 miles to the Rio Grande, where they got to swim and cool off. Our week concluded at a Mountain Kid favorite, Rio en Medio. The campers loved playing in the beautiful waterfall and river! We had a fantastic week getting muddy and loving nature!

The Secret Language of Birds and Intermediate Backpacking! August 1-4, 2016

The Secret Language of Birds!

The Hummingbirds and Owls kicked off their week at the Beaver Ponds, keeping their eyes and ears open for birds! A rare find excited us all as a counselor pointed out a tiny hummingbird nest, expertly spotted in a tree. We also enjoyed watching a few male red-winged blackbirds perched on cattails. Tuesday the kids braved a stormy hike in Norski before heading down to little T for some shelter. Wednesday was an excellent day! The Hummingbirds and Owls headed over to the Wildlife Center and learned about predator/prey birds. We saw red-tailed hawks, a peregrine falcon, bald eagle, and a host of owls among many more. It was truly awesome to have the chance to see these birds up-close. For our final day of camp we headed to Big Tesuque where the children built forts, played in the creek, and decorated the counselors’ hair with fresh wildflowers. Between all the bird-learning, games, and free time, it made for a memorable and fun week!

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Intermediate Backpacking!

Just back from a three day backpacking trip with 11 kids and 3 adults this past week along the Rio Santa Barbara. Such a blast!

We experienced pouring rain and thunder, warm sun and incredible beauty. We had cattle tromping through our site day and night, saw a grouse in a tree, a beaver pond and met a nest of angry yellow jackets. We hiked to a stunning meadow surrounded by rocky cliffs and a gorgeous view of North Truchas Peak. We sang silly songs, played games (that the kids turned into political satire: i.e. Capture the Candidate, instead of Capture the Flag). We left chatter of video games and iphones on the trail after day 1 without adult prompting.

We shared from the heart during circle time, ate simply, lived simply, and all expressed a desire to spend more time in nature. What an inspiring end to our summer season, and a reminder that we need to do more: to get both kids and adults out into nature.
Thanks to all the kids (one camper experienced his first time ever camping!) and parents who made it happen. Memories for life made, so many more adventures to come!


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Volcanoes Rock! July 25-28, 2016

We had such a fun week during Volcano and Rock week! After a special guest taught us about fossils, the Hummingbirds and Owls headed out to the beaver ponds to search for some, while the Eagles explored the rushing waterfall of Rio en Medio. On Tuesday, it was the Hummingbirds’ and owls’ turn to splashed around in the frigid Rio En Medio waterfall! The Eagles visited Mesa Prieta and the Rio Grande on Tuesday. Wednesday we set out to hike at Tent Rocks. With extra water bottles in hand, we managed to enjoy the strange geological sculptures that towered above us. It was HOT! We stayed safe by playing games under Pinon tree shadows and resting. Thursday was the grand finale. The Valles Caldera was truly thought-provoking for some, and offered a nice trail through wildflower meadows. The Hummingbirds and Owls looped around a volcanic bulge, now covered in plants and trees, that offered excellent rock-climbing and shade. Due to lightning, we swiftly hiked back to the nature center where Thomas, our gifted story tell, enraptured his audience, keeping the small center quiet for other visitors. Meanwhile, the Eagles escaped the rain and enjoyed the features at Tsankawi. The kids will think about these days, later in life, and realize that week was as rich as the volcanic soil they walked on!


Young Archeologists! July 18-21, 2016

Bi-chrome, poly-chrome, lithic, or pottery shard? Atlatl or bow-and-arrow? Mountain Kids had so much fun this week as we explored the field of archeology! The Hummingbirds, Owls, and Eagles began at the NM Department of Archeology where we tried our hand at different hunting apparatuses, examined bits of stone and pottery, and watched as a skilled professional made a perfect obsidian arrowhead. Tuesday the Owls and Eagles hiked the Winsor, and played lots of games in the mountains. The Hummingbirds enjoyed the cool temperatures and water at the Ski Basin. The campers also put on their thinking caps and imagined how they would someday be ancient people. Each child thought of something they would like future peoples to know about them, which they wrote down or drew, and put in our time capsule. Wednesday the Hummingbirds and Owls had another great day at the Pecos National Monument where we learned about the history of the Pueblo and Plains Indians, and the upheaval between them and the Spanish and missionaries. The kids had a chance to climb ladders down into ceremonial kivas, and spend some time in cool shade it provided. The Eagles visited Mesa Prieta in the morning and cooled off in the Rio Grande in the afternoon. On Thursday, we began our day enjoying and cooling off in the sprinklers at Fort Marcy. After our morning start, the Hummingbirds and Owls wrapped things up at Big Tesuque, where we had lots of free play in the forest. The Eagles ended the week exploring Arroyo Hondo. This was such a fun week at Mountain Kids and it was so clear to us how rich the area is with history and resources for us modern folk to enjoy!

Hummingbird Adventures:

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Owl Adventures:

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Eagle Adventure:

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Fun in the Sprinklers!

Bug Out! July 11-14, 2016

This week Mountain Kids had a blast exploring the world of bugs! On Monday, we started our adventure at Little Tesuque. Led by Wade from Harrell House Bug Museum, we set pitfall and potato bug traps. We left the traps near the trail overnight and on Tuesday we headed back up to Little T to see what we caught! Checking the traps, we mostly caught ants but there were a few spiders in the traps too! Tuesday afternoon we visited the Harrell House Bug Museum. There, we admired the large collection of creepy crawlies, butterflies, moths, giant lizards, scorpions, and much more! The brave campers also got to hold some of the museum’s bugs, including a millipede and a tarantula. On Wednesday and Thursday we enjoyed the water and cooler temperatures up the mountain at Big Tesuque and Norski trails. It was a fantastic week filled with bugs, nature, and adventure!

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Let’s Grow! July 5-8, 2016

This week Mountain Kids explored the great world of plants. The campers started the week by playing in plant-rich places, including the Beaver Ponds, Little Tesuque, and Norski. Wednesday was a great new adventure to Santa Cruz Farms. There, the Hummingbirds and Owls learned all about the different fruits and vegetables grown at the farm, including blackberries, raspberries, radishes, lettuce, and kale. The campers also learned about how plants grow and their importance to our world, and, as a group, they learned how we can grow as people. In the week’s final closing circle, the kids shared how they grew this week through making new friends and playing together. We loved exploring, playing, learning, and growing this week!

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Photo Safari and Adventure Filmmaking! June 27-July 1, 2016

Photo Safari!

This week the Hummingbirds and Owls went on a photo safari adventure! While the kids were playing and exploring in nature, they captured images of their adventure using photography techniques they learned from our photography master and Director, Katie. Some of the techniques they used were the rule of thirds, contrast, and close-up and faraway view points. Featured below are the photos taken by the Hummingbirds and Owls throughout their photo safari!

Photos by the Hummingbirds:

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Photos by the Owls:

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In addition to the kids capturing moments in nature, our Mountain Kids counselors caught the Hummingbirds and Owls in action throughout their adventure. To start the week, we ventured to Little Tesuque where we practiced the rule of thirds and enjoyed the river. On Tuesday, we headed out to the picturesque Rio En Medio. The kids became ever-vigilant as they carefully hiked through “poison-ivy alley” (successfully) and were awe-struck by a huge mass of hot-pink blooming Cholla.  The Hummingbirds had lots of free play that involved such things as crossing streams stone by stone, clambering up boulders, and discovering moss that became green carpet for a home. The Owls hiked all the way to the majestic waterfall and enjoyed getting soaked in the cool water. The week also took us to Big Tesuque, Norski, and the Beaver Ponds where we shot more photos with new knowledge of the elements of design from a photographic perspective: line, shape, pattern, contrast and color. The Hummingbirds and Owls accomplished a lot in one week, culminating in a end of week Photo Show where the kids favorite photo was shown at Warehouse 21.  We are mighty proud of their willingness to see nature as a thing of beauty and wonder.  Check out the kids’ adventures below!

Hummingbird adventures:

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Owls Adventures:

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Adventure Filmmaking!

Adventure Filmmaking was Mountain Kids first two week camp! For the first week, the Eagles went on a backpacking trip to Rio en Medio. During their trip, the Eagles filmed their adventure, capturing footage of the river, forest, and fellow campers. Throughout their second week of camp, the Eagles went to Warehouse 21 to create a movie out of their taken film. When they weren’t in the studio, the Eagles also took nature adventures to the Santa Fe River and Deer Creek. Their two weeks culminated in a show of their videos, along side the photo show.  It was great to see these beginning film makers work, and was an awesome two weeks of film and nature!

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The Secret Language of Birds

OwlsWowowow! After a terrible, no good, very bad day in the office, and getting sick on top of everything else, a silver lining appeared in the form of a family of Great Horned Owls at the Federal Courthouse park recently.

Here’s how it came about. With family and friends, we were throwing a frisbee after eating take out, (already an excellent end to the day and week), when I decided to investigate the very vocal flock of crows that were insistently alarming around us. I thought our presence might be causing this. I walked over to where they were clustered and looked up to see a VERY LARGE BIRD, a Great Horned Owl, perched stoicly on a tree branch above me.  I immediately called the others, and we lay under the tree for a long time, watching the owl watch us, and gradually accepted that this huge and beautiful creature was not going anywhere, despite the flock of crows (and our) best efforts.

We gave up our hope to see flight and wandered back to our picnic table to watch from a distance. Owen then noticed some bird poop plop down from the tree above us. He looked up to see two MORE Great Horned Owls, a mama and her baby, sitting RIGHT ABOVE US!!!! They must have been there the WHOLE TIME (watching us eat dinner, play frisbee, etc.) It’s amazing how oblivious us humans can be!

The baby Great Horned Owl looked a bit like a seal with fuzzy teddy bear fur, and big dark eyes. Baby and mama perched and observed us with curiosity, not at all afraid, while we did the same of them. (Although at one point the kids wondered if we might be mistaken for prey!) Finally, as we were leaving, the mama gifted us with witnessing her flight to a nearby tree.

So many questions raised – what were the crows trying to accomplish? Was the owl threatening the crows’ young? or another baby bird’s nest? Or were the crows threatening the baby owl? The mystery and the magic of the time remain, and remind us that signs are everywhere and one can never underestimate the power of nature – to nourish, to heal, to put us in our place and to put things in perspective. Paying attention to bird language is a really simple and easy way to learn about what is happening in the forest and world around you.  Next time you hear a bird sounding alarmed, pay attention. It is definitely for a reason!