Colorado Academy’s Outdoor Program has already ushered more than 200 students into the outdoors and the backcountry this school year, and by speaking with some of the participants, one unifying principle becomes clear: the process of setting, achieving and learning from goals in these environments is rapid, regular, and tangible. View the Outdoor Program calendar on the website to find optional trips for students in each division.
Bear Creek Fly Fishing
A mixed group of Middle and Upper school students are introduced to a simple roll cast. The process is perfected by repetition and punctuated by wind knots and flies snagged on branches. Eventually, the hard work is rewarded with the dip of a strike indicator and the living, electric dance and tug on the end of the line.
Mt. Elbert Climb
Five Upper School students and two teachers point a bus in the direction of Mt. Elbert. The goals are to summit and participate in a trail maintenance project. After expending ample energy on the hike to the summit, the group achieves their goal, but weather obscures the view. After some discussion, the group agrees that maybe the actual reward was the thanks of hikers who passed the students and teachers as they labored to improve the path and facilitate the goals of others.
North Table Mountain Hike
Middle school students relinquish the joys of a lazy Sunday in favor of a day of climbing on North Table Mountain in Golden. The more experienced climbers practice the skills related to lead climbing while on top-rope belay, and all participants push beyond doubts related to heights and level of difficulty. At the end of the day, good-natured chatter erupts from smiling faces. All agree that rough finger tips, chalk residue, sore forearms, and relieved toes freed from the confines of climbing shoes are the best proof of new skills learned and cruxes surpassed.
There is no question as to the value of long-term goals; however, what is lost if we cannot remember the value of each individual hurdle on the journey to that goal? The backcountry offers opportunities for students to revel in the rewards of setting their sights on the next ridge, referee the contest between mind and muscle, and attain what seems impossible, and they can do it all in the same day or maybe even the same hour.