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! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Survival Hunting Tools: July 15-20

This was a week full of watery fun, skill building with knives and bows, and some good heart pumping hikes with views for miles and miles.

Monday we started with spear making at the Big Tesuque. Knife safety was the most important lesson of the day.  Campers made some pretty nice looking spears in preparation for our Atl Atls on Wednesday.  We played games to get to know one another and explored nature in all of it’s glory. (Caterpillars and all.)

Tuesday was a Rio en Medio adventure, a good wet hike to a waterfall where the campers enjoyed plunging into the icy water.  They quickly chose to wear rain jackets to protect them from the icy flow. It was a joyous day on the Rio en Medio trail.

Wednesday was our day of Archery and more tool making in Chupadero.  We worked on our spears and Atl Atls (an ancient hunting tool which provides speed and leverage fro throwing a spear).  We then tried our hand at archery.  Bark Bunnies was a fun game for all –  aiming for chunks of bark, laden with jerky. If you hit the bark, and knock the jerky down, you get to eat the jerky.  Yum!

Thursday we headed up the Winsor Trail for Raven’s Ridge.  It was a challenging climb, so Michael helped break it up by teaching the kids how to make animal traps in the wild.  Super simple and cool.  The view from Raven’s Ridge was worth the climb! Nice work, all.  We had a great week of tool making, hiking and playing with you all!

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!

June 24-28: Wilderness Skills

The Hummingbirds (Mountain Kids’ younger group) started their week exploring the trails and waterways of the Beaver Ponds, while learning what to do should we encounter a bear and mountain lion.

The fun continued with an introduction to building survival shelters and a lesson on their importance. As the week continued, the Hummingbirds discussed the essential 6W’s (who, what, when, where, why, & weather) and why they’re important even before entering the wilderness. The children also learned seven new hand gestures in order to help them better understand the seven Leave-No-Trace Principles (ways in which we can respect and take care of our wild lands and parks with low impact practices). We also explored ways of staying S.A.F.E.R. (a mnemonic for how to stay safe while spending time in the outdoors), with one of the key elements being to STOP AND STAY PUT if you get lost.

During our week of acquiring new wilderness skills, the Mountain Kids roamed through areas such as the Rio en Medio, Aspen Vista, and the Ski Basin, all of which are  beautifully wooded locations and provided us with a wonderful setting for each camper to use their imagination while becoming animals such as deer, mountain lions, bats, and moths.

Our week ended with the Eagles (older campers) and Hummingbirds gathering together for a day filled with fun and games at the meadow of the lower Big Tesuque trail. What a fun and adventure-filled week!

Muddy Buddies – July 2018

The Muddy Buddies week is highly anticipated by our campers and counselors alike, and this year did not disappoint! With the heavy monsoon rain becoming more and more frequent, all of our favorite trails have been transformed into muddy wonderlands with endless possibilities!

5 to 7-year-olds

Challenging our Mountain Kids! to dig a descending mudslide into a knee-deep mud pit in Galisteo, mud tattoos, mud painting the counselors, and of course “who can get the muddiest?” contests are few of the many highlights of our week. We visited the Santa Fe ski basin, Deer Creek, Galisteo, and Santa Cruz Lake as our filthiest destinations, with Galisteo being the choice location for mud deep enough to fully submerge in! Ski Santa Fe and Deer Creek offered some nice hikes and were great, beautiful places to play games and enjoy stream-side mud, whereas Santa Cruz lake was an amazing place to get as muddy as possible along the lakeshore and have the option to clean off during a relaxing swim afterward. When we weren’t playing in the mud, making natural clay pots and bowls were a great pastime.

Mud fights broke out numerous times throughout the week and it was impossible not to get caught in the crossfire! All week our campers took being “clean” as overrated, so it might take the entire weekend and multiple showers for these kids to regain their usual skin tones and hair colors. One more week left of the summer for us Mountain Kids! and we’re aiming for it to be one of the best yet!

8 to 12-year-olds

Muddy Buddies was the goofiest, dirtiest, most fun week of Mountain Kids! yet. The week consisted of getting gloriously muddy, rinsing, and repeating. Our muddiest locations were Galisteo Creek and Santa Cruz lake, both of which were muddier than you can imagine! You imagination may not even bee enough, the photos will speak for themselves! Our kids were knee deep in the dirt, slipping and sliding around, camouflaging themselves, wrestling, and making fabulous creations out of clay. Close behind these mud havens were Deer Creek (where we got to do some fantastic swimming in watering holes that, while they were dry a few weeks ago, are now full to the brim) and Ski Santa Fe, where we were playing in the muddy headwaters of the Rio En Medio. Our week ended poignantly with some of our favorite Mountain Kids! returning to their home state! 🙁 Thankfully we get to see them next year 🙂

For future camps, check out our programs page!

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

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:

Photos by the Owls:

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:

Owls Adventures:

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!

Week 10 – August 4-7, 2014: Wilderness Skills!

Monday, August 4: Lower Windsor Trail along Big Tesuque Creek

Rain and shine – we had it all this week! We started with a new venue for the summer.   With rain eminent we decided on the lower end of the Windsor Trail along Big Tesuque Creek. The rain held off and we had a wonderfully cool hike up to a grove of enormous Ponderosa pines where we played in the creek. The Eagles developed a deep pool with a rock dam complete with hollow reed spigots! The rain finally found us about ten minutes from the vans.

Tuesday, August 5: Deer Creek/Grasshopper Canyon

Tuesday we listened to Ziggy read Stop and Stay Put, a book about how to prepare for a hike and what to do if you get lost. Then both the Owls and Eagles hiked up Deer Creek for a well deserved dip in the deep (yea monsoons) granite pools. The pools were cool but not freezing cold and we could have played in them for quite a while longer were it not for a good hike back needing some time.

Wednesday, August 6: Aspen Vista to top of the  quad-chair lift via Carl’s Meadow.

Wednesday Dave read The Giving Tree before collecting dead yucca fronds for making cordage. It was a blue sky day for a trip up to high country. Owls frolicked in the headwaters of Rio en Medio up at the ski basin while the Eagles climbed up to the top of the Quad chair from Aspen Vista. Strawberries were abundant in the big meadow that is the top of the chair lift knoll. We worked on map and compass skills, plotted our route up through Carl’s meadow and counted contour lines to discover we had gained over a thousand feet in elevation!

Thursday, August 7: Ski Basin to Norski Trails via the Windsor Trail.

Thursday Rebecca led us in a discussion of what to pack for a day out using her own well stocked pack for an example. We then played a quick game of Mountain Lion, Lightning, and Bears, Oh my! Up the hill to the Windsor trail we went for our last day of 2014. Owls enjoyed the Rio en Medio meadow and the Eagles built shelters in the Norski environs. Popsicles brought by Shelly, Sam’s mom, awaited our return to celebrate another great summer of Mountain Kids!  Thanks for a great season all!