May 27th-30th: The Eagles Have Landed!

Tremendous trees and wonderful wildflowers were greeted by exceptional Eagles last week in the mountains.  We “met” and identified evergreens and aspens, built shelters, found raccoon tracks at the beaver ponds, did some bouldering, bird watching and listening, discovered insects, made natural string, and played many games including a whole lot of Capture the Flag. From shelter building and learning about biomimicry, to flower pressing and hiking to the pools at Deer Creek, the Eagles had a tremendous time!

Thursday, August 8th: Hyde State Park!

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Today was the last day of Mountain Kids for this summer. Before heading out, the kids began with some playing tag while others created tree art.  We all learned about the different components of a tree by creating a giant, living tree out of all of us!!

After a snack, we drove up to Norski Trail for hiking and shelter building, but found that when we arrived it was simply too cold!  We headed back down the mountain to Hyde State Park, where we quickly warmed back up while eating our lunches in the campground at Group Shelter #2.

The Bobcats went with Jeremy and Ashley on short hike to a waterfall. They learned to identify spruce, fir, and ponderosa pine trees. Along the way, they saw a black widow spider eating a moth. Everyone learned some Spanish from Carmela and Nico today.  Thanks to the Venezuelans and their cousins for teaching us, and making us realize the importance of learning a second language!

The Otters played Frog Detective, Freeze Tag and Meet a Tree (They go out in pairs. One is blindfold and the other guides them to a tree. The blindfolded one must get to know the tree – by touch and smell. Then the pair walks to where they started, the blindfold is taken off and the child must go find the tree they had just met without seeing). Wrapping up the time in the woods, the kids all had the chance to paint or draw a leaf they had gathered or what they had seen during the day.

Thursday was the last day of Mountain Kids for the summer. We are sorry to see it end, yet delighted that another year of Mountain Kids camp has taken place with much magic, play, learning and sharing.

Tuesday, Aug 6th: Tsankawi

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Mountain Kids went to Tsankawi for the day. The Bobcats went on a hike to caves and petrogylphs. We learned about the history of Tsankawi and the indigenous peoples who once inhabited it. We found tons of pottery that the rain washed down, and were able to see petroglyphs very clearly because of the wet stone. We even saw a kokopelli and a hunting scene in the rock which would have been hard except for the dampness. We  played in a lot of the small caves.

The Otters did a short walk to the top of a mesa, bravely climbing a ladder en route. The Otters drew what they saw and enjoyed the sunshine while playing games.

All of us experienced stunning views, took the time to observe the rocks and the plants. As per usual, we ended the day back at the Children’s museum sharing stories of what we saw and experienced.

Monday August 5th: The Big Tesuque

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The first day of the last week of camp was wonderful! We started the day meeting our buddies and playing games with one another. Then we headed up the mountain to the trail.

The Bobcats went off on a hike to a shelter and a beautiful lunch spot where they played games (team building games and ‘meet a tree’) and learned about the different trees and wildflowers.

The Otters played in the river and then hiked to a nice spot in the shade for story time. After our story we talked about trees and split into teams to build shelters and look at the various big shelters already built with the aspens. We reflected on our trip and then ended the day working together as a group to learn a camp song called ‘a-mia.  We then split into buddies to play and then headed home for the day. Looking forward to another wonderful day tomorrow!

Thursday, August 1, 2013: Tsankawi

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This morning we planned to make paper and then go to the mountains, but it was cold and rainy so we changed our plans.  Instead, we headed off to Tsankawi where it is almost always dry and warm!

Tsankawi is a part of Bandelier National Monument and there is so much to see!  Petroglyphs, ancient pueblo ruins, caves, deeply grooved paths, pottery shards, really interesting trees, brush, cacti, and flowers. Each time we visit we have to choose among the many wonderful ways to explore this site. Both groups took different routes and hiked the whole loop.  On our hike, we learned a lot about the history of the land, the ancient pueblo people, and rocks and geology. It was such a treat to have such cool weather, since the heat and lack of shade at Tsankawi usually prevents us from hiking so much.

It was a great hike and a great day! The van home was full of sleeping children, and at the museum we all got to play with a parachute in the cool grass before going home!

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013: Leonora Curtin Preserve

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Today we played tree tag at the Children’s Museum and then had a circle where we talked about how trees are used by people. We examined various products to show how trees are used in so many different ways.

Our adventure today was to the Leonora Curtin Nature Preserve, a 35-acre property owned by Santa Fe Botanical Gardens. It is located on the I-25 frontage road south of Santa Fe. We had a wonderful tour guide named Susan who showed us around and pointed out various flowers and trees including Lemon Verbena, Cat tails, Cottonwoods, Russian Olives, and Yerba Mansa.

We did pastel drawings of flowers and plants that we liked, we read books about trees, and we went on a beautiful hike to a pond. At the pond there were dozens (literally dozens) of frogs! Since this was so exciting for the kids, we played games like Frog Detective and What Time is it Mr. Frog? It was such a treat to be there and to see the wetlands.  Thank you to Susan and the Santa Fe Botanical Gardens for showing us around this beautiful treasure!

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013: Ski Basin

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Mountain Kids went to the Ski Basin today for the theme of ‘seeing and being aware.’ We spent much of our time at the river. Throughout the day we also paid particular attention to safety, learning and practicing the acronym S.A.F.E.R. which is about how to stay safe on a hike (Stop and stay put if you get lost, Tell and Adult where you are going, go with a Friend, bring an Equipment kit, make sure you Rest).

We played different games that focused on observation and awareness. We tried to remember what our friends were wearing as a practice for observing our surroundings, and a great tool in case someone gets lost.  We focused on staying still in order to observe all the tiny creatures that we can find in nature, such as spiders and caterpillars. We also worked on paying attention to where we put our feet so we do not accidentally hurt our little friends!

We did a group activity called Build a Tree where we learned all the parts of a tree and how they work – from their hearts to their roots.

Of course, we had much stomping about in the cool stream waters. It was a very fun day of learning and playing in the mountains!

Summer 2013 Week 1: Wilderness Skills!

By all accounts Week 1 of Summer 2013 was a hit!  We had a fabulous group of campers and happy, dirty, wet and tired kids returning from mountainous adventures each day.  New friendships were forged, new adventures had, and new wilderness skills acquired!

Themes all week were S.A.F.E.R., equipment/packing a backpack for a hike, cardinal directions, noticing surroundings, maps and landmarks, keeping track of buddies and belongings, and working together!

We started the week with a name game, an orientation to Mountain Kids and a group contract.   We talked about what we need to have in our packs and on our bodies for a safe and fun adventure each day.  Everyone got a “Buddy” for the day to keep them safe on the trail, and to make a new friend.

Monday at the Beaver Ponds brought a wide variety of explorations: making beaver dams, listening to birds, making rafts, finding clay, fossil hunting and playing camouflage.  Each group chose their group name for the week: we had the Horned Lizards, the Bobcats and the Otters.

On Tuesday Mark read a story in circle called Stop and Stay Put where we learned how to stay safe when going on an adventure in nature.  The acronym S.A.F.E.R. helped us remember these important concepts:

S  – Stop and Stay Put (if you get lost)

A  – Tell and Adult where you are going

F – Go with a Friend

E – Bring an Equipment Kit (the basics include water, sunscreen, hat, snacks, jacket)

R – Make sure you Rest.

Our adventure for the day took us to the Nordic Trails to hike and learn how to build survival shelters that will keep you warm and dry, or cool in the forest if you are lost.  We played Park Ranger and other games for group building.  The Littles played a hiding game with their buddies and one where they hiked along the trail and took note of anything that stood out.  Campers were buddies with new friends today; they really enjoyed getting to know new kids!  We had story time and did our first Sit Spots of the week while making Sound Maps.  A beautiful day in the forest!

On Wednesday, Ashley led us in learning about the Four Directions and how to use a compass to find them.  We practiced finding the four directions at the Children;s museum using magnets to show us magnetic north, and again at the Big Tesuque where we spent the day hiking, playing by the river, making maps, identifiying landmarks, building shelters, doing Sit Spots, watercolor painting, and talking about what else we could add to our backpacks to make our Equipment Kit even better (compass, mirror, whistle, orange garbage bag, first aid kit, etc. )  The water was super fun, but also COLD!  We did a rain dance to help bring on some moisture!

Thursday we headed up to Black Canyon where the kids found many wonders of nature: a bird nest, broad tailed humming birds, caterpillars, butterflies and wildflowers.  We connected the Four Directions and compass with a map to show how they can be used together.  We played games, did watercolors, sound maps and another rain dance!  Let’s hope it works soon!

All in all it was a wonderful week!  We are grateful for such a super group of kids and such stunning natural beauty in our surroundings to inspire us each day!