Wildside Saturdays

October-December 2021 | Monthly Saturdays

Ages 5-11 | 10am – 3pm

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 followed.

October 2nd, November 6th, December 4th

Scholarship Application

Registration Begins August 1, 2021

Wildschool

Monday and/or Wednesday | Ages 5-12 | 9 am – 3 pm

September 13th -December 15, 2021

Enrollment available for one or more days per semester

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 followed.

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

Scholarship Application

Registration Opens August 1, 2021

 

Mountain Kids! After School

Get your kids out to play in nature!

Mountain Kids! After School program is a place for children to engage in free-play, group games, exploration, hiking, wilderness skills, and arts & crafts during adventures on local trails.

Studies (and experience) show that being outside in nature is good for children’s social, emotional and spiritual health. Children develop greater confidence, team work skills and build up tolerance for adversity by spending time outside, and so much more!  All of this while having fun, getting dirty, and best for parents; tired!

COVID-safe practices will be followed. 

Tuesday and/or Thursday | Ages 5-12 | 3:30-5:30pm

***Thursdays Begin Sept 16th, 2021***

August 30-December 15 , 2021

January 10-May 25, 2021

Challenge Level: (Age-Appropriate)

Monthly Tuition: Tuesday $150 + tax, Thursday $150 + tax 

  • school pick up available – additional $15 per day

Scholarship  Application.

Registration Begins August 1, 2021

Mountain Biking Camp

June 28 – July 2 | Ages 8-13

8:30–3:30 | Early & After Camp Available

Monday-Thursday $395 | Mon-Fri $475 | Mon-Fri (8-5:30) $575 + tax

Challenge Level:

Whether you are a beginner or an intermediate rider, grab your mountain bike and get tuned up for some riding adventures! Riders will learn tips for riding single track, trail etiquette, and riding smart. We will ride at La Tierra where there is plenty of single-track and a great flow track full of whoop-de-doos and yehaws.  We will split the group according to age and skill. If we get some really hot days, we will reward ourselves by heading to a cool, watery location!

Scholarship Application

Robin Hood’s Secrets with Archery

The story of Robin Hood evokes clever and thoughtful adventures in the woods, stealthy river crossings, balancing on logs and fine homes in trees. How did this merry band of men and women keep their camp secretly hidden from foes? What were these skills of invisibility, enabling them to watch over the forest, unseen all the while? How did they defend themselves, cook, heal their wounds and spend their leisure time? We’ll have opportunities to explore these age old secrets of the woodland life and adventures over the week, while delving into the classic tale of Robin Hood and his band of brave women and men, as handed down through the generations.

June 1-4 | Ages 5-7

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

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

Challenge Level:

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!

Historic Winter Hike: Tsankawi

Tsankawi is an amazing winter hike, only 40 minutes from Santa Fe.  In fact, Tsankawi is great any time of year, but can be hot without cloud cover during summer months.

Tsankawi is a part of Bandelier Nationl Monument, but without handrails, concrete ramps and steps. At Tsankawi you can pretend you are explorer discovering this place for the first time, with waist deep grooves in the paths and a myriad of caves to explore.

The rock here was created when the Valles Caldera blew it’s top, and ash and lava flowed down to form what is now called volcanic tuff.  It is a soft rock that the pueblo people dug into to make the cavates. Cavates are human made caves that were a part of the pueblo peoples settlement.  There are many intriguing cavates to be explored on this hike.

The 1.6 mile loop trail involves three ladders, so be prepared to navigate these. The first one is short (and can actually be avoided if you prefer), while the second can be missed entirely by taking a slot trail, and the third, at the far end of the mesa, is the longest, and unavoidable. 

I like to do the trail “backwards” with younger kids so they can climb up the long ladder instead of down which seems easier for them.  To do it this way, stay right and walk along the edge when the arrow points up to the left. You will also avoid the second ladder this way. There is a drop-off on one side, but the path is wide enough to avoid heart-palpitations, for the most part.

Once you reach the caves, be sure to stop and sit in one together. (Be careful to tread lightly, as it is easy to kick up dust in there, which makes sitting inside no fun.) In the cave, have a snack, tell a story, break out your long lost flute or recorder, or just imagine what life would have been like for the kids who lived here.  Ask your kids what it would be like to live here. What would they do for fun? Would they work in the fields? These are fun ideas to ponder with your kids and can provoke conversations for days and weeks to come.  Next time you take away their screen time, they can pretend they live in a cave and need to find their own fun. Just imagine…

Getting There

Take 285 North to Pojoaque. Take Hwy 502 West toward Los Alamos. Take Hwy 4 toward White Rock. The trailhead is on the left just before the first stop light you see.  Park here and grab a ticket at the kiosk to put in your car which is your entrance fee ($25/car). Pick up a map for $1 at the entrance to learn more while you hike.

August 19: Cooking Adventures in Nature

Monday morning greeted the Mountain Kids with the chance to harvest apples at the beaver ponds, which of course included some tree climbing for those who felt called to do so!

The Eagles were very successful in the apple hunt, picking more than 200 apples in a short amount of time! They did most of the coring and slicing of apples to make apple sauce for everyone to take home. (The Hummers would have their turn on Thursday with the peaches!)

On Tuesday morning we sliced and strung apples to dry them for a lovely dried fruit snack.

The remainder of the day was spent hiking at Tsankawi,
part of Bandelier National Monument. The children learned about how the Ancestral Pueblo people once lived. While enjoying lunch in a wonderfully cool cave dwelling. Mountain Kids learned of the many different types of food and animals in the local area and the ways in which the Native peoples would have gone about harvesting and hunting them for food.

 

On Wednesday, we headed out to Rio en Medio, where we were able to gather fallen acorns and experience the sweet taste of freshly plucked red currant berries and a few raspberries along the trail.

The heat of the afternoon was spent splashing about the crisp river water, creating dams and building boats from nature to sail down the river. On our travels back to Santa Fe, the Mountain Kids spotted a couple of beautiful fruit trees full of apricots and apples, which they harvested for a juicy afternoon snack! Foraging sure is fun, and tasty. 🙂

The Eagles hiked to the Rio en Medio waterfall, crossing the river many times, an adventure in itself. It was a challenge if you wanted to keep your feet dry!  We and had a blast getting wet and exploring the frigid waterfall at the end of the hike.

That afternoon the Eagles headed to Chupadero for our Cooking Adventure Campout. We roasted our dinner in the ground (Chicken, sweet potatoes, and corn), learned how to use a handdrill and bowdrill to start a fire, and pitched a large shade structure to provide respite from the hot sun.

We enjoyed time around the campfire roasting apples, apricots and telling stories. A quick rainstorm didn’t deter us from a fun evening under the stars.

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday morning started with an early trip to the Tesuque Pueblo, where the Hummingbirds and the Eagles joined together to pick peaches for the Pueblo people.

In return for the hard work gathering the fruit, we were able to pick our own peaches to enjoy and take home. Soon after we found our way to Chupadero where we spent the afternoon slicing peaches for a fruit compote and practicing archery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone got to take home fresh peaches that afternoon. YUM!!

With our bellies full of sweet fruit, it was nice to spend Friday playing in the woods and exploring our creative side. The Mountain Kids headed up and into the mountains where we spent the afternoon building shelters at Aspen Vista, creating hand made bows, arrows, and spears (from sticks, rocks, and yarn). It was a ‘sweet’ end to a super sweet and tasty week of foraging, eating, camping and archery! What an awesome end to an amazing summer 2019! Thank you families for being a part of it! 🙂