Forts & Forests

June 21-25 | Ages 5-7

8:30–3:30 pm | Early & After Care Available

Mon-Thu $347 | Mon-Fri $425 | Mon-Fri (8-5:30) $475 + tax

Challenge Level:

Learn everything you have ever wanted to know about forts, survival shelters, forests and trees in this week long adventure of building forts and fairy houses. What is a debris hut and how it is different than a wicki-up? Why won’t a stick fort keep me warm and dry, and how can I make it so it will? We will learn about trees and use them for crafts, to make fairy houses, play Tree Tag, Meet-a-Tree and other favorite activities as part of this awesome week of tree loving fun!

Scholarship Application

 

Willow: Early Buds for Bees, and Sustenance for Many

By Carmen Harris

As we begin our warm-cold dance & windy journey toward spring you will inevitably notice periods of time when the weather is so fine and fair that our bees can be seen flying about in search of sustenance. I’ve already noticed them on our warm days sipping on the resin of wood that I’ve been cutting while I work outside, doing their best to seek whatever they can during this ‘fallow’ time in the plant world before buds break open in Spring. What are the early foods that our bees can eat to sustain themselves at this time of the year? 

Willow, one our earliest budding shrubs, will open their catkins or ‘pussy’ buds at the end of February to early March, displaying delicious pollen for our bees to sup on. Beekeepers will often place their hives of bees near stands of willow for early foraging and for the health and wellness of their hives.

Let’s take a wee look at the willow who so kindly buds early for our bees. The term “pussy willow” refers to several species of willows that get furry gray catkins. Generally, the first spring “pussy” buds, often have a lovely silken, soft grey fur about them – like a cat or a rabbit. Later, the fur disappears and is replaced by either male or female flowers, depending on which type of plant you have. Pussy willows are dioecious, meaning there are both male and female trees. Although only the male flowers produce pollen, both sexes produce nectar.

In New Mexico we have a common willow known locally as ‘Coyote willow’ or ‘Sandbar Willow’ (Salix exigua). You have most likely seen, played with and hidden coyote willow along ditches, riverbanks, and historically, underneath cottonwood trees around Santa Fe and other parts of New Mexico.

Children at Mountain Kids! will have interacted with coyote willow at the Upper Canyon Road Preserve and along the Santa Fe river. 

Coyote willow is a special habitat for many critters, one being the Willow Fly Catcher. It is also browsed avidly by deer throughout the winter, and to some extent by sheep, goat, rabbit and cattle, in summer and early fall. Beaver also eats the trunks of willow, along with those of cottonwood, gnawing the inner bark or cambium as food, and placing the sticks as parts of dams or lodges. 

Coyote willow roots freely from cuttings when put straight in water or into damp soil. I like to carefully and considerately cut a few new shoots with tight buds on them in early February, place them in a vase or jar and observe the buds opening in my warm home earlier than they would outside. Keep your eyes out for these special, soft buds, and for the bees that rely on them!

Wildside Saturdays

January – May | Monthly Saturdays | Ages 5-12 | 10am – 3pm

Winter & Spring Dates: January 30, February 27, March 27, April 24

Challenge Level:

Wildside is a monthly skills building and nature connection program which runs throughout the school year, with seasonal enrollment.

This is an empowering adventure for children and youth, providing them an opportunity to inquire, engage and challenge themselves in skills that will provide them with a deep sense of nature connection and accomplishment.

Wilderness skills, archery, tracking, orienteering, shelter building and natural crafts will be a part of our time together. As a group we will build strong trust and communication skills and have a lot of fun playing team building and nature-connection games.

COVID-safe practices will be enforced. Adult:Camper Ratio is 1:5.

Fall Tuition:$340 + tax.

Monthly drop-in available, space permitting: $85 + tax

Scholarship Application

Mountain Girls!

Mondays or Thursdays | Ages 11-15

3:30-5:30 (time adjusted seasonally as needed)

January 11 – May 20, 2021

Drop-off and pick-up at local trail heads

Challenge Level:

Mountain Girls provides girls ages 10-15 with an opportunity to build confidence, positive relationships, health, leadership, and a love of nature through outdoor activities (hiking, mountain biking, wilderness skills, backpacking, games, art, and journalling).

Discussions and journaling will build self awareness, while challenging activities such as biking and hiking build confidence. Girls will be split into age-appropriate groups and will choose a group goal to work towards.

COVID-safe practices will be enforced. Masks and frequent hand-sanitizing required by all children and staff. Adult: Camper Ratio is 1:5

Winter & Spring Monthly Tuition: $160 + tax

Optional: Girls Backpacking Trip $285 + tax

Scholarship Application

Wildschool

Monday, Wednesday & Friday | Ages 5-12 | 9 am – 3 pm

January 11 – May 21, 2021

Spring Break: Week of March 15th

Enrollment available for one or more days per semester. $10% discount for multiple day enrollment

Challenge Level:

Wildschool is a nature immersion program for children ages 5-12. Days are filled with nature awareness games, primitive skills, tracking, crafting, natural movement, play and story. Phenology (the study of seasonal changes) will be incorporated in an age-appropriate way.

Listening to the wild within and all around, the children enliven their animal senses, tuning their creativity and awareness to outer rhythms and seasonal changes.

COVID-Safe practices will be enforced. Masks and frequent hand-sanitizing will be required by all children and staff. Staff:student ratio 1:5.

Winter & Spring Monthly Tuition: $340 + tax. $10% discount for multiple day enrollment. Monthly Payment Plans. Seasonal Enrollment.

Scholarship Application

July 22: Wonders of Water

The Mountain Kids had an exciting introduction to the many wonders of water on Monday, a day spent venturing through the nearby Beaver Ponds, where the team learned about the adaptations of beavers, discovered many fascinating (and wildly unexpected) fossils, and played in the refreshing water of the Santa Fe River.

Tuesday was a day filled with much more water (and mud, too!) at Abiquiu Lake. The children were able to imagine the scarcity of water in our waterways with the Water Scarcity Game, before heading out to Abiquiu. It certainly did not take the Mountain Kids! long before they were jumping into waist-deep mud and making a real splash with a cannonball contests into the lake!

The Hummingbirds caught a glimpse of the unyielding strength of water during our hike, on Wednesday to the waterfall at Rio en Medio. Some children recognized how the trail had completely changed in some areas due to recent heavy rains, and that several of the river crossings were much wider and more difficult to maneuver. We were super impressed with the hearty group, making it all the way to the waterfall! A big hike for little legs.

With a challenging hike under our belts, Thursday came as a breath of fresh air. We discussed where our water comes from in Santa Fe, and learned about our local watershed before enjoying a much shorter hike through the refreshing water on our way up to the Nambe Falls. Here, the children splashed and played, made mud pies, practiced stacking rocks, and enjoyed the cool refreshing water in the falls.

It surely was an exciting week filled with lots of wonderful water! Friday was a lovely day for the team to come together, once more, and enjoy several games after a hike down the Little Tesuque trail.  Thanks for a great week, all!

The Secret Language of Birds & Bugs: July 15-20

It was a bugging good week for the Mountain Kids! Monday’s adventure on the Aspen Vista trail, accompanied by the Hummingbird’s hand-crafted bug catchers, provided a lovely introduction to a variety of our local bugs and birds. Tent Caterpillars painted the dirt paths and climbed up the aspen trees which allowed for fun and easy hands-on access to the little critters! After spending the morning reviewing some of the characteristics of different birds and bugs common in our area, the Hummingbirds practiced their creativity in a few rounds of bug and bird charades!

Wade, our wonderful bug friend in town, met with the team on Tuesday and guided us on a hike to several different bugs. The Mountain Kids learned about local spiders, beetles, ants, grasshoppers, water insects, and many more during their time at the Beaver Ponds.

With lots of new information concerning different bugs, the Hummingbirds were ‘antsy’ for their visit to the Bug Museum on Wednesday. The team met with Wade, again, at the Harrell House Bug Museum, where they held different bugs, watched the spiders and tarantulas get fed, and explored several different caged critters.

On Thursday, the Hummingbirds buzzed on over to the Santa Fe Raptor Center where they met with a variety of different owls and falcons and learned about their characteristics, diets, and different habitats. Each child was able to spritz one of the falcons with water to help him cool off in the heat. Boy – it sure was a hot one! The Hummingbirds also had their chance to cool off by splashing around in the river in El Rito.

We finished our day with watermelon and ‘appreciations’.  It was sweet to hear the kids appreciating new friends they had made, the birds they saw, bugs they met and the counselors who lead them throughout the week.

Friday was a sweet end to the week spent playing in the mud and water at Nambe Falls!

July 8-12: Robin Hood’s Secrets

“The story of Robin Hood evokes clever and thoughtful adventures in the woods, stealthy river crossings, balancing on logs and fine homes in trees.” The Hummingbirds had an adventurous week discovering ways to heal wounds, practicing archery and fire making skills, and uncovering techniques for keeping invisible and camouflaged in the woods! A Monday spent at the Norski Trail was the perfect opportunity to learn about the Leave-No-Trace Principles, how to stay prepared with the 6W’s (who, what, where, when, why, and weather), and to gain some practice building shelters and hiding huts.

A day of hiking at Rio en Medio, on Tuesday, allowed for the Mountain Kids to romp throughout the woods and experience several beautiful and refreshing river crossings. A handful of the Hummingbirds chose to challenge themselves with an extra long hike all the way back to the waterfall – a glorious feat well worth each step!

Wednesday, the Hummingbirds began their morning learning how to create Pinon Pine Salve which can be used to help in healing small scrapes and wounds. After their fun craft, the Mountain Kids headed out to Chupadero where they worked with, Michael, a wonderful primitive skills educator, who taught them new archery safety and skills and how to create fire with sticks! After a day spent in the sunshine, Thursdays trip up the Santa Fe River, allowed the Hummingbirds to use their imagination while balancing on logs, crossing the river, and walking stealthily up the waterway!

The Hummingbirds and Eagles joined together, on Friday, for a day spent splashing in the mud and water at Abiquiu Lake. The low waters allowed for endless amounts of clay and mud which was just perfect for practicing camouflage skills!