June 3-7: Wilderness Skills with Overnight Campout

What a busy and fun week we had!  On our first day we made mini-survival kits and headed out to the Beaver Ponds where we hiked, played Eagle Eye (a sneaking and hiding camouflage game), climbing the perfect climbing tree, learning how to use a compass and a topographic map, and found fossils on the walk back to the van. Phew!  

Day Two started with a discussion of Leave No Trace principles by Annie, our very own LNT Trainer!  After snack and games we headed up to the Norski Trails where we learned how to build survival shelters and then made our own in small groups. As we hiked, we had fun playing many types of games, shared by counselors and campers alike. (Thank you, Ella for bringing your repertoire:). We enjoyed singing The Bear Song and Bats Eat Bugs on the trail and in the van.

Day Three was our big camping day.  With storms on the horizon there was a question about whether we would be able to sleep in our shelters.  We prepared for the storm by setting up tents, a group tarp, and gathering firewood and putting it under a tarp.  Once we were ready for the evening and prepared for the storm, we worked on our shelters, made survival bracelets and enjoyed many rounds of Meet-A-Tree.  

Back at the camp, we learned about fire-making and made a warming fire for us to gather around. Then the rain came for a short time during dinner, when we retreated to the group tarp for Nacho-making, and a short stint in our tents. After the rain, we were able to emerge for a perfect evening around the fire of stories, songs and laughter.  

Our last full day together we made water filters and talked about a variety of ways to purify water in the wilderness, an important skill! We practiced filtering water with a gravity filter on our hike down the Winsor Trail to the Rio en Medio.  The campers were eager for more Meet-a-Tree so we partnered up for this fun sensory game again before we gathered to share our appreciations of the week. We then brainstormed the many uses for a bandana and each camper was gifted a bandana to take home.

What a wonderful week and a great group of campers!  Thank you all for making this such fun!

June 3-7 Forts & Forests

Our summer camp started beautifully with a green and lush forest to explore, finding special places within which to make finely engineered forts and shelters. The dandelion flowers have been abundant and we have all learned that they’re not only edible but delicious, too! (I suppose, that also depends on who you ask;) Each child made a homemade first-aid kit with the use of ‘Altoids’ tins to carry along with them for the week. The children used their first-aid kits at least once for some important concern; though, some children used theirs a whole lot more than others!

As we ventured through the week we learned how to stay S.A.F.E.R out in the woods – learning and remembering what each of the letters stands for, bringing awareness to how we might avoid getting lost in the first place and what to do if it happens. ‘S’ is for “STOP and Stay Put!” We also figured out how useful it is to have an assigned ‘buddy’ each day to help us, cheer us on, and relay messages to Counselors when needed. Kindness and attentiveness to each other, along with safety, was a theme this week for our group.

Several days in a row we passed Black Tail Deer in the same spot on Hyde Park Road as we drove up for our adventures. We now call that area “Deer Crossing.” There was an exciting sighting of a woodpecker during a quiet moment in our hike – all the children observed this loud bird with rapt attention and something akin to awe. Games were never too far from our minds with the desire to be the next eagle for Eagle Eye or the next sardine for, you guessed it, Sardines!

A splendid week spanning the cooler weather with increasing warmth. Thanks for a great week, campers – summer, here we come!

 

Let’s Grow! and Bikes, Hikes, and Boats! July 2018

What a week for our Mountain Kids! We had two groups exploring last week our 5 to 8 year-olds and our 9 to 12 year-olds. See what they got up to last week!

Let’s Grow!

lets_grow

Mountain Kids! are celebrating cooler weather at every opportunity with the glorious monsoon season now upon us. The (almost) every afternoon thunder and rainstorm this past week kept us cool and energized for all the “Let’s Grow” activities in store!

We began our week with the initial, seemingly far-off concept of having a Mountain Kids! feast on Thursday with wild fruits we harvested, yogurt we processed into cheese, and even homemade sourdough bread! By the end of the week, our campers couldn’t believe how much tasty food we were all able to eat with the same plants and natural, earthly elements we worked so hard to gather.

What a success! It’s still a mystery how our Mountain Kids! had time to gather and create such homemade delicacies amongst so many games, hikes, and swimming. Park Ranger, a camp-favorite game, was requested and played every single day this week! When we weren’t playing, we were found climbing trees at El Rancho de las Golondrinas, swinging over streams on tire swings, and swimming at Santa Cruz Lake.

Thursday’s plentiful feast we shared consisted of cow milk yogurt processed into cheese, goat milk cheese with fresh herbs, an apricot jam made from freshly picked apricots, sourdough bread risen with natural yeast we collected from aspen tree bark, and wild berries for a sweet dessert. So good! Great job this week Mountain Kids! – it was quite a treat to have you!

 

Bikes, Hikes, and Boats!

This was a seriously full week for our Mountain Kids! in the Bikes, Hikes, and Boats group! After enjoying the newly reopened forest on Monday, our week got more dramatically awesome mountain biking, visiting waterfalls, and lake kayaking. Our kids made some of the best dams we’ve ever seen, rocked out on the bike trails, kayaked across Santa Cruz lake at incredible speed, and had one of the most extreme water fights ever. It was satisfyingly exhilarating and exhausting! As well as the pure fun, we were very impressed with the kindness of this group: everyone was very supportive of each other’s differences and needs. Fantastic week!

 

Check out our upcoming camps!

Photo Safari!

This week our Mountain Kids learned and practiced everything photography! We learned how our human eyes relate to cameras, how cameras work, different composition techniques to capture the most interesting photos, and even had the opportunity to take home a print of our favorite shot!

Esha Chiocchio (CIT Zubin’s mom, and a professional photographer) came in to talk to us about composition and shared lots of fun exercises with us.

We explored a different photo challenge each day, sought objects for photo scavenger hunts, zoomed WAY in on bull frogs and goats, and took beautiful photos out on the many hikes we conquered!

Of course, sprinkled in to each day, was a number of active games to tie all of the skills we learned together. These campers were so impressive and are some of the best photographers Mountain Kids has seen all summer!

July 7-10, 2014: Tremendous Trees and Biomimicry!

We had a teeny, tiny group this week with some big energy!  We played games, did intros and talked about Biomimicry (big word!) at Fort Marcy before we headed off to the Big T for our adventure.  We hiked, ate, played capture the flag and enjoyed the Tremendous Trees all around us.  We played a lot of Frog Detective and got a little wet  – lovely!

Tuesday took us to Tsankawi where we stayed dry, despite the downpour in Santa Fe!  We found pottery shards, arrow heads and obsidian.  We read a Native American story about how humans came to be on earth.  We hiked, imagined life here, and explored caves –  enjoying a little escape from the heat!

Wednesday: Rio en Medio.  We talked about more examples of Biomimicry at circle.  On trail we played Meet-a-Tree and A-Mia, made leaf boats and fairy homes (Owls).

The Eagles did a big hike to the waterfall and even had time for games along the way.  It was a splendid day to put your head under ice cold water, if you dared!

Thursday: The Beaver Ponds brought us a new and unexpected friend – we found “Muffin” a sweet, sweet dog wandering on the road.  We called the owner to no avail, and called Animal Control.  The Owls played at the trailhead while waiting for Muffin to be rescued.  The owner finally came after lunch!  Meanwhile, the Eagles hiked around the pond and played Camouflage and Capture the Flag.  Afterward, we scooped up the (recently freed!) Owls and headed to a new waterfall across the road.  FUN!

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!

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.

Monday August 5th: The Big Tesuque

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!