Bikes & Boats! June 18-22

This week our campers proved their abilities both on wheels and on water. On Monday and Tuesday, we honed our mountain biking skills on the La Tierra Trails learning the basics of terrain navigation. They were very impressive, piloting their bikes through the flow trail, the wee-whoops, and the terrain park with confidence.

On Wednesday we loaded up our kayaks and headed to Abiquiu Lake for our overnight camping trip, where we were very grateful to spend the day swimming, splashing, and paddling. Our kayaking instructor, Steve, taught us how to efficiently paddle and toured us along the shoreline. We ended the day soaked and satisfied, and returned to our camp for dinner, songs, and sleep. On Thursday we packed up camp and returned to the water spending most of the day relaxing on the beach, casually kayaking around, and jumping into Abiquiu’s cool water. It was a fun and full week of camp, just how we like it! Thank you, Mountain Kids!  – Max

Three Day Backpacking to Wheeler Peak!

We climbed Wheeled Peak on our three-backpacking trip to find out what we were made of. It turns out we are made of tears and laughter, dancing and determination, strength and acts of kindness.

It was a long, tough climb to 13,170 feet (5 miles one way) to the highest point in New Mexico. When the going got tough for one camper in our party, we called a group meeting to talk about how we could support one another to get there. One friend stepped forward to carry their shared backpack. We gave another permission to play his music so he could dance us up the mountain, which was cheering for all. The friendship and camaraderie of a third helped both of them to feel supported and able to carry on.

I stayed in the back with the slower campers. We took lots of breaks, enjoyed the scenery, the rainbow of wildflowers, and saw a whole family of big horned sheep. The going was hard but steady. After multiple (disappointing) ‘false summits’, we finally made it to Wheeler Peak, the top of New Mexico!

This kind of experience can’t be measured in feet and miles however, but sweat, tears, and gumption.

The memories made, the friendships gained, and the confidence that comes with overcoming hardship to achieve the seemingly impossible is what will stick with these kids as they move back into their daily lives.

I am so proud of all the Mountain (climbing) Kids! for working hard and supporting each other to reach this incredible goal.  – Katie

What an impressive week! Our courageous campers hiked, ran, skipped, and occasionally danced their way to the top of Wheeler Peak, the highest point in New Mexico, after a serious amount of preparation. Their physical capabilities and positive mental attitudes were truly impressive. We rounded the week off with some kayaking at Santa Cruz Lake. Nothing beats gliding around on cool, calm water after spending the week aiming to summit the next grand peak! – Max

Wonders of Water!

Wonders of Water week turned out to be a huge, wet success! Our campers triumphantly discovered a natural water source at each destination and enthusiastically learned a new fact or skill everyday. We explored the water cycle, how to conserve, and how to properly filter water!

In between lessons, our campers sought out interesting looking minerals on river beds, and came across a handful of native, water living creatures.

I think we all have an absolutely enormous appreciation for water, especially here at home in Santa Fe. Keep on rain-dancing everyone, bring on the rain!

Forts & Forests!

What a fantastic way to kick off the beginning of an adventure filled summer! Week one of camp was all about exploration and creativity within our natural world in the National Forest. We had so much fun teepee building using the natural resources we discovered under the grand aspens. We loved playing relationship-building games in the chilly streams and vast meadows. Eagle Eye and Sardines were BIG hits amongst these eager to play at Mountain Kids! Thanks so much for joining us during our Forts and Forest themed week!

Wilderness Skills and Villanueva Overnight – June 4-8

This week our campers spent an equal amount of time cooling off by splashing around in rivers, and learning valuable backcountry skills. We learned how to prepare for a backcountry trip, the basics of scene assessment in a first responder scenario, and how to treat certain medical conditions. We practiced how to find a compass bearing and how to use an analogue watch to find North! We learnnd how to make a salve out of pinon sap which is great for cuts, scrapes and bites. We also learned that on ninety degree days everything is better when you’re sitting in a river!

Our week culminated with a make-believe scenario where one of our counselors pretended to have heat stroke and our campers had to assess the scene, assess his condition, and find ways to cool down his core temperature. They did a superb job, although they may have had a little too much fun dumping him in the river! It was such a fabulous time and we look forward to seeing these kids again.

July 3, 2017: Digging into the Past, Week 1, Galisteo Basin

Today was an adventurous, hot and muddy day, and boy did we have fun! The morning was mellow with all the new campers shuffling in. Some decided to make the art project which was nature journals and some decided to play Park Ranger.

We circled up afterwards and had a great time playing a name game, and learning how to stay safe and have fun at camp. Next up was eating our snack while hearing an incredible story about archeology. We talked about how to be archeologists, and our plans for the week ahead. We then got ready to load into Steve, our adventure van. After water bottle re-fills, bathroom breaks and buckling, we were ready to hit the road!

The day began with some good clean fun, and ended with the joyful abandon of bug catching, mud slides and mud balls!

We arrived at the Galisteo Basin excited to see what we could find. Specifically we were looking for colorful rocks to make paint with, clay, and other clues to the past.

First off on the trail we found an old still working windmill! It was so neat to see it pump water up from the ground with wind power right before our very eyes. Back on the trail, we soon found an entire old ruin, a perfect find to practice being archeologists! We looked for clues about what this old ruin might have been and made some educated guesses. We also found what we thought were bells from a distance, and turned out to be a complete mystery when examined up close. (See photo, ideas about what this is are welcome!)

Afterwards, we happily trotted down the trail until we began to descend into a tiny canyon that had really unique and interesting rock formations. The colors kept changing from pure white to dark burgundy, to yellow ochre and varying shades of browns, greens and blacks. After finding many specimens of different colors, we ate our lunches and chatted about fun things.

Then off to the river, which was a short drive down the road to Galisteo, a tiny cute town with a beautiful river running through it. In this spot we found an excellent area of deep clay for making things and playing. The kids mostly enjoyed playing in the river, collecting bugs and tadpoles, making mudslides and mud balls and other imaginative and joyful activities!

After such wet, muddy fun there were lots of clothes to change! After putting on dry clothes, we drove home, laughing and smiling the whole way. What a fun day and an awesome group of kids.  We are looking forward to more historical and playful adventures in the week ahead!

Enjoy some photos of the day below.  More to come! 🙂

Three-Day Backpacking Trip: May 30-June 2, 2017

This week was one of impressive maturity from our campers. A particular before/after moment encapsulated this for me: a quarter of a mile up the Rio en Medio parking area, the trail crosses the river for the first time. On our first day, I was walking in the back with Sofia, our only ten year old, who had never seen a tent before this trip. I told her we needed to cross the river, and she stopped dead. “I can’t!” she exclaimed.

She found out she could, and this trepidation was in stark contrast to our return trip. On Friday, I was walking behind Sofia, who was leading us out to the vehicles. She was one of our Leaders of the Day on Friday (which I will explain momentarily), and had just taken us down the last two miles of trail, setting a steady pace and stopping at appropriate times to make sure everyone was hydrated. We approached the first river crossing, and I delightedly watched her scamper across: without hesitation, declaration of inability, or even really noticing that it could be considered a challenge.

Some stats about this trip: There were two leaders, and six campers (although our roles were occasionally reversed!). Most campers had been backpacking before, although none had done a trip this long. We went 14 miles in three days, climbing and and descending 2000 feet. Each day we had two campers each on tent crew and cook crew: those responsible for housing and feeding the rest of us. We also had two LODs. These were our Leader of the Day: responsible for our maps, telling us when we were leaving, setting the pace, checking in with the rest of us to see if anyone was in need, deciding where we would camp, and myriad other things. It takes a while to get into systems of duties and responsibilities such as this, but our campers did so admirably. After Lucio turned his ankle, it was awesome to see Oliver, as LOD, continually check in with him and make sure that he could keep up with the rest of the group. Or to listen to Max, who was brave enough to be a LOD on our first day, encourage everyone up our steepest sections of trail.

When Ezra and I awoke on Friday, Lucio was warming his hands over a crackling fire, which he had woken up early to prepare for the group. As I was eating breakfast, I told Owen and Felix to pack their bags and take down the tents: they half-exasperatedly told me that they had already done both of those things, and returned to their oatmeal.

The trip was not only laden with responsibility: there were games, songs, and the occasional backcountry-themed rap. However, what stuck out to me about this week was the way in which our group rose to the occasion of taking the trip into their own hands. From helping us choose our route to practicing stove safety, it was a week of proto-adulthood: in two or three years, I hope they are taking themselves on similar trips.

Cheers!

-Max

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!