The immediate hands-on, sensory experience of spending time in the outdoors is a crucial part of our students’ education. Developing an appreciation for the beauty and tranquility of the natural world is also key to understanding their place in the natural world. The lessons in the challenges of camping make our students more resilient and adaptable in all aspects of their lives.
The 7th grade starts off the fall semester with a three-day orientation trip to 100 Elk, an outdoor education center in Buena Vista, Colorado. The 8th grade also participates in a three-day camping orientation at Los Brazos, near Chama. These orientation trips focus on students working together in teams, learning to be more responsible for themselves and each other, personal goal-setting, and setting the tone for the Middle School as a whole.
In late January, the Middle School participates in Winter Wonder Days, spending four Fridays snowboarding, skiing, or snowshoeing.
At the end of the school year, the 7th grade takes an overnight camping trip at Ghost Ranch. The 8th grade embarks on the annual rafting trip on the San Juan River, near Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
The 9th, 10th, and 11th grade take various camping trips in early September. The 9th grade splits into four or more groups, pursuing interest areas such as Art in Nature, the Enchanted Road Trip, Wheeler Peak Summit, and the Wanderer’s Journey. The 10th grade heads out to Santa Barbara Campground in the Carson National Forest, where they work in small cooking/cleaning groups, each led by a faculty member. Activities on this trip might include hiking, swimming, games, archery, and group challenges. Like the 9th grade, the 11th grade splits into smaller camping groups around various interest areas: fly fishing; wilderness horseback riding; exploring the artistic inspirations of Ansel Adams and Georgia O’Keeffe at Ghost Ranch; backpacking in the Pecos Wilderness; summiting Santa Fe Baldy; or taking a deep dive into the archeology and natural wonder of Chaco Canyon.
In February, all upper school students will have the opportunity to join in the annual Wolf Creek Ski Trip near Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
The seniors’ main event is the five-day rafting trip on the Green River in southern Utah. This trip down Desolation Canyon is incredibly beautiful both in scenery and in the opportunity for the seniors to slowly say goodbye to each other, with graduation right on the heels of the trip.