Here we are in the Colorado Spring, that season with snow, wind, and the feeling that life is being breathed back into our mountains.
I'm getting a lot of requests for information. Parents are registering on the website and emailing me with questions. Here are three points to consider in making sure The Mountain School is a great fit for Summer:
1) We are consistently open and available this Summer. Every Monday through Friday we will sign in and sign out students at GSES and Two Rivers Community School. Be there at 8:00 AM and be back to pick up your sun-kissed, tired, dusty kids at 5:00 PM. We are not in session on holidays (Closed 7/3).
Again on the consistency idea, we are going to take your students out by bus, bike, and on foot. They will become trailhounds. If they are already trail-savy little adventure kids, we will build on that. We will send pictures of your kids asleep on the drive back home.
2) We practice experiential learning in a very active, adventurous style. Even the youngest kids (We are licensed for ages 6-14) can push themselves on right-sized adventures like a bike ride from Dotsero to Glenwood Springs. Older kids will love rock climbing, an activity we've found to be safer and more manageable than some. And when they take part in these activities they are fully awake, inspired, and ready to assimilate and talk about Science, Math, History and other lessons that are apparent in those settings.
My family took a trip to the Dotsero Crater this weekend, and that would be another great example of a biking/hiking trail that is accessible to all and has a variety of lessons relevant to the First Peoples, the Ute, the first settlers to the Glenwood Canyon area, Biology surrounding the Pinyon-Juniper Forest, Geology concerning the Dotsero Crater, a Scoria Cone Volcano that last erupted about 4,000 years ago...
We will visit many places like this, and we will do our best to be at the best elevations for the season and weather. July, for example, will be more about rivers, creeks, fly fishing, and waterfalls. Calendar is in the works, but not shareable yet.
Counterpoint: to emphasize by contrast
All kids will be tired by the end of the week. Fridays were easy-going last year because we had logged some serious miles earlier in the week. But The Mountain School may not be the best choice if your child is going to have a hard time persisting at age-appropriate adventure days. Further, some kids make choices that could cause danger to themselves or others. I will be all over that.
I hate to say that some families should think twice about joining, but I think it's important that I sum up the value of The Mountain School for the right kids and people rather than promote who we are and what we do to an audience that would ask up to compromise our core values. In other words, it's not my job to prove our value to anyone, but rather, to find like-minded people who see the value inherent in what we do.
I know you guys are out there, and that many of you are seeking the same experience, places, and sense of wonder that we are. I am forever grateful for those pioneer families who trusted us with their kids last Summer.
3) Inspiration. I started this writing by talking about the life that is breathed into the mountains again this Spring, and that is just what inspiration means. The mountains and wild places are breathing life and health into all of us. There is research that tells us how important our connection to Nature is, but more than that, we all know that getting out, off the grid, disconnected from technology, into the beating heart of the Wild just feels deeply good. Thoroughly satisfying.
I would venture to say it's an issue of displacement for kids these days. Compared to us, they are far more inundated with information, technology, and pressure. They need time and space for those things to be displaced and thoroughly washed away by the inspiration Nature brings.
Another way to consider inspiration is that kids are born with innate ability. They are already inspired in their particular ways. A lot of my reading over the past few years has been about Teacher as Facilitator, or how a Teacher can set kids up to "lead their own learning." I'm fascinated by the accounts of the Finnish education system and how the Teachers there are trained to help students uncover their potential. I certainly believe that the best atmosphere, one of freedom, trust, and time for reflection will allow students to manifest the best of who they are. We will make time and space for kids to suggest, test, choose, and initiate new directions. Summer is a great time for teaching and learning.
We had a lot of great times like this last Summer. I saw friendships form, trust build, and kids grow. We had a ton of fun, and I can't wait to see it all unfold again.
I've had solid conversations with many parents, and will hold to the practice of talking this through with everyone to make sure The Mountain School is a great fit!