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CATCH-ing More than Healthy Habits

CATCH mentors

School is back in session, which means Keystone Science School’s CATCH Afterschool Program is in full swing. Currently we have a total of 155 students enrolled in session 1 across all six Summit County Elementary Schools.

This year we had big crew of incoming Kindergarteners and CATCH was happy to welcome 46 to the CATCH curriculum. On the first day of Kindergarten at Summit Cove last week, there were definitely some big eyes and deer-in-the-headlights stares when CATCH got started after school. We may not all remember our first day of school, but it’s not hard to imagine how overwhelming and exhausting it must feel. While the CATCH curriculum focuses on important things like nutrition, activity, and motor skills, our program coordinators and instructors do an amazing job of teaching respect and teamwork as well.

I knew it was working last week when I saw older students self-electing to act as mentors to these lost and exhausted newcomers. Whether they knew each other before CATCH or not, the older students gently led, encouraged, and reinforced the younger ones to make sure that everyone got a turn, had a voice, and had a good time.

This is exactly the kind of community-building we hope comes out of all of our programs at KSS. No matter where we are or whether we’re teaching nutrition, health, or water ecology, at KSS we also strive to teach responsibility, accountability, and compassion. As a member of the marketing and development team I get to drop in on all of our programs throughout the year. These experiences never fail to inspire and re-energize me when I see the kids demonstrating not only the academics they've learned, but also treating each other with more openness, respect, and kindness. 

So THANK YOU to all of our amazing CATCH staff who bring so many healthy influences into the lives of our Summit County kids every day.

Here's to a great school year!

SP Training Photo

It seems like we just said goodbye to the 2013-2014 School Programs staff and suddenly here we are, knee deep in training, and another school year is upon us. We have a metaphor around here to differentiate School from Camp Programs; Camp is a sprint (just ten short weeks of intensive programming) and School Programs is a marathon (commandeering campus for ten full months).

This year we have a team of eleven staff members, eight of whom will serve as our instructors and three who will take part in the apprentice program. We would not be able to run our programs without these eleven amazing educators. So, we are ecstatic to have them on staff and have enjoyed going through a week and a half of training to get them ready for the school year.

At KSS we look for educators who have the ability to adapt curricula and content for each group we work with, as each program is customized according to age, SP Training Photo2academic level, and goals. Last week we saw our first school group, 80 high school students from Aurora focusing on teambuilding while learning about wildfire management. This week we have a group of 5th through 8th graders from Broomfield, participating in one of our On the Road programs at Windy Point campground. Even as I am writing, they are doing a challenge hike up Quandary Peak.

The School Programs staff are here to learn from each other, teach the students we serve, and hone their skills as educators. With each challenge they encounter, they will also have amazing stories of how they have impacted students’ lives. Stay tuned throughout the school year for inspiring stories from our KSS School Programs staff.

Cheers to another school year and to our amazing staff. We are so happy to have you on board and will be here to support you throughout the marathon we call School Programs!

Farewell from your Camp Family

 Camp photo

The dust has settled on campus today. Yesterday was the first Monday in nine weeks that there were no cars driving through Day Camp drop-off, no returning campers hugging one another as they run towards the Bighorn and Henry dorms. Disco-zilla has been packed up and put away and Rives Dining Hall is the cleanest that is has been in months. The markers are capped, the wood cookies stored away, and no counselors are yelling “The Three Bears” song on the Launchpad.

Campus is calm today, but it is a bittersweet calm, because it means that another summer has come and gone, the odyssey has ended, and it’s time to remember a daily routine that has been forgotten since May.

Many of our campers and counselors come into camp feeling a little homesick, not sure of what to expect at Keystone Science School, not sure if they will make new friends or if they will be the only one who misses their family. And now, with new songs, friends, and a new perspective, they miss their “camp-ily.” Homesick turns to campsick and they can’t wait until fall Harvest Camp or June of next summer, when they can return.

And so, this message goes out to our wonderful KSS Camp-ily:

Remember the challenges, the hikes, the peaks. Remember the camping and the discoveries. Remember to always be Science. Adventure. Fun! Set Hot Pink Gorilla traps, research the Grape Ape, and keep your eyes open for the Blue Dilly. Happiness runs in a circular motion and the green grass does grow all around, all around. Remember how your campers and counselors have changed your lives and keep in touch with your old and new friends. Remember the stars in the sky. KSS is not just a place, but a people, and each and every one of you have left your legacy here this summer. Thank you for this amazing odyssey and we look forward to seeing you next summer!

KSS Burst My Bubble - in a good way

Learning about ranching

As part of our Basin Voyage Program, participants were asked to write a final reflection paper on what they learned on their journey through the Yampa River Basin. The following paper is reprinted here with permission from Aaron Shi, Basin Voyage 2014 participant.

I live in a bubble. Allow me to explain. I live in The Woodlands, a relatively wealthy suburban community of greater Houston. The town is 90% white and not very diverse. As members of this community, we would never give two thoughts about water conservation or how we got our water.

Coming to Keystone and participating in Basin Voyage introduced me to a growing, immediate concern I did not even know existed. In the six days I spent in Colorado, I learned about the water crisis and possible ways to solve it. We were assigned certain stakeholder positions that represent the different interest groups throughout Colorado; mine was Routt County Commissioner. As the Routt County Commissioner, I had to learn the specific needs of Routt County, the growing concerns of water, and possible ways to solve this issue. I learned that Routt County is a very agricultural-based community and a hotspot for tourism. Conserving the land for agriculture and future development proved to be a pressing issue. My experiences on a ranch opened my eyes to a part of the world that I never could have seen back home in The Woodlands.

Because Colorado is split by the Continental Divide and different river basins, the amount of water availability can vary greatly from place to place. Through this, I realized that water is a finite and limiting resource no matter the state or situation. I realized that Texas, similar to Colorado, also exhibits a growing concern for the water. Even The Woodlands is already making big renovations to ease water tensions – large pipes are being built under roads to switch municipal use from ground water to surface water. I must take what I learned here at the Yampa/White River basin and apply that back home in Texas as well.

In Routt County, I discovered that education and awareness could help a lot. I noticed that people were not well-informed about sustainable use of resources and the importance of water conservation and efficient agricultural practices. The same also applies to where I live – people willy-nilly waste water and throw it around as if it were worthless. Because I was privileged enough to come to Keystone for a few days, I must take what I learned and do what I can to educate my peers and family on the importance of conservation.

Finally, Basin Voyage opened my eyes to the world of politics. I was able to experience, first-hand, all the different interest groups meet and discuss possible solutions to the water issue. I realized that it is very difficult to come to an agreement in the world of politics – some agreed on some things, but most disagreed on most things. After being able to present our recommendation to the water leaders, we realized that we only scratched the surface of the issues and more research and actions would be necessary.

My experience with Keystone Science School’s Basin Voyage opened my eyes to a looming water problem that must be resolved in the near future. I will take what I learned and apply it back home to The Woodlands in every way I can. This trip was definitely one I will never forget.

How Basin Voyage Changed Me

Sunset BasinVoyage

As part of our Basin Voyage Program, participants were asked to write a final reflection paper on what they learned on their journey through the Yampa River Basin. The following paper is reprinted here with permission from Andrew Cook, Basin Voyage 2014 participant.

Throughout this trip our group was presented with a number of problems. These problems all centered around a common resource -- water. Over the past week we have discovered that water is not something that we should take for granted. Freshwater is a limited resource that should be protected.

When we met with all the stakeholders at the ranch I realized just how important water conservation and distribution is to everyone in Colorado, from the people to the animals. Coming into Keystone and the Yampa River Basin I thought that freshwater would be around to be used freely for many years to come. After hearing the concerns of so many in the water industry, however, I now know that we must work hard to protect and conserve the water. Everyone must work together, no matter how different their viewpoints, to research and develop new ideas that will benefit the state of Colorado for decades to come.

Dams and reservoirs play a major role in water conservation and distribution because they can be utilized for the benefit of all stakeholders. However my view on dams and reservoirs was much different at the beginning of our research. At the start of the program I was assigned to represent the Colorado River District, which must supply all of Western Colorado with appropriate water to uphold their businesses. I believed that dams and reservoirs could only harm the citizens of Western Colorado and that they could receive no benefit from a big company barricading part of the river. Now that I have fully researched these water storage plans I have come to the conclusion that these reservoirs can actually aide the Colorado Water District in providing water to these people.

I also learned that the same water conservation habits that many practice in Colorado should be brought back to my home state of Texas. which also has a dry, arid climate. This climate causes our state to suffer the same water scares as in Colorado. I believe that if we were able to educate the public in Texas in the way Colorado educates its citizens, we would be able to conserve a lot more water, which could help us during droughts or in other times of need.

I personally will try to manage how often my family will water our lawn which is one of the big consumptive uses of water that we must deal with in Houston. Hopefully the future is bright for water conservation in all parts of the country. Due to this trip I now know how important it is to not only conserve water myself, but to educate others on how they too can help save our freshwater.