Weekly Update: July 10, 2022

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Our final week at camp has been full of triumphs: the Big Spring long trips were incredibly successful with boys backpacking throughout the state; summiting mountains almost every day of the week and riding miles from the barn through the open valleys, the pine forests and the Aspen groves onto our adjacent public lands. The laughter, stories and sense of accomplishment continue to percolate through the community today–with boys holding their heads a little higher, their shoulders back a little stronger and a look of possibility and potential in their minds and hearts. Our trip leaders have written letters sharing the tales of each trip with our camp parents and that letter, plus our final counselor letter, will be mailed later this week.

At High Trails, campers had a final Cabinside All Day prior to the incredible Enchanted Forest themed JC Dinner on Monday. The Junior Counselor Dinner is a much-anticipated event where the JC’s choose a theme, conceptualize a vision for each cabinside, then iterate the parts into a cohesive whole. From decor, to songs, to their use of recycled materials, the Junior Counselors did an incredible job working together as a team and creating a memorable event for the whole camp. High Trails campers also had other overnights and all days this week–including plenty of horseback riding, rock climbing, canoeing, mountain climbing and on-property adventures at our Tipi Encampment and at the Quick Homestead. There were also a number of other favorite Evening Activities including Miss Sanborn, the High Trails Talent Show and a skit night where the SOLE/CORE and JC/Outbacker program participants shared insights and highlights with the campers who can participate in those programs next year.

Sanborn Junior campers also went out on overnights and explored the Bat Caves and Fossil Beds, as well as floated down the South Platte River. They played a lot of Gagaball and enjoyed a number of different special swimming activities and time at the bouldering gym (“rock house”) at Big Spring. Our Sanborn Junior campers remind us that play is an essential part of the time we spend here at camp–and when we take the time to play games in the field, to investigate the blue beetle in the grass, or use our imagination to pretend we are pioneers, we reconnect with a fundamental part of ourselves that can see and explore the world that is right here around us.

In Jon J. Muth’s excellent children’s book, “The Three Questions” (based on a short story by Leo Tolstoy) a young boy named Nikolai seeks to be the best person he can be…but he is not always sure he is always doing the right thing. He asks his friends the same three questions: What is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? His animal friends give him disparate answers based on their own perceptions and experience, which don’t seem quite right to Nikolai. He takes his questions to the wise tortoise, Leo, who–instead of answering him–watches as Nikolai jumps up to help him tend his garden, then watches as he rescues a panda and her baby from a violent storm. After the excitement subsides, Nikolai is sad once again because his questions have not been answered. But they have, explains Leo.

“Remember then, that there is only one important time, and that time is now. The most important one is always the one you are with. And the most important thing is to do good for the one whom standing at your side.” For these, my dear boy, are the answers to what is most important in this world.

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And this is what we have been doing up here in the Colorado mountains for the last four weeks. Being present in the day-to-day; living in a community of individuals who value and support us for who we are; and spending each and every day taking action for the benefit of others…whether that is cleaning the unit or slowing down the pace or giving someone a hug when they are sad.

As we debriefed the session with campers this afternoon, the question was asked, “What makes this place special?” and the answer was unanimous: we can be ourselves at camp. No filters, no facades, no pretense. Without technology and societal pressure, campers are not curating themselves in this space. They are allowed to simply be. Without parents or guardians, campers make decisions and develop self-efficacy and autonomy, and seek to add value to their living unit, ridge and trip communities. Without unlimited access to the exact foods one loves or to all of one’s favorite clothes and shoes or to the smell and feel of your own bed, campers–instead–find comfort and confidence in the support of the people around them–and then express their gratitude by caring for them in return.

Tomorrow is packing day. All morning long, campers will ask staff and each other, “What can I do to help?” and–suddenly–we will have over 600 bags packed, over 150 boxes ready to ship and countless cabins, tents, washhouses and facilities cleaned…all before lunch.

Your kids do amazing things at camp, but it is your kids that make camp amazing. We are so grateful for the time we have spent with them these last four weeks and we are going to miss them terribly when they leave on Tuesday.

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Ariella Rogge
About Ariella Rogge

Ariella started her career at Sanborn when she was twelve. After five years of camper and five years of Sanborn staff experience, she continued her work with kids in the high school classroom. Ariella and her family returned to Sanborn in 2001 to take on the Program Director role which she held til 2012. She and Elizabeth Marable became co-directors of High Trails in 2013 and then Ariella became the High Trails Director in 2020. In the fall of 2022 she became the Director of Sanborn Western Camps, overseeing the director teams of both Big Spring and High Trails. She lists mountain golf, Gymkhana, climbing mountains and making Pad Thai in the backcountry as some of her favorite activities at camp. Ariella received a B.A. in English from Colorado College and is a certified secondary English educator,an ACCT Level 2 Ropes Course Technician, an ARC lifeguard and NREMT and WEMT. She lives in Florissant in the summer and in Green Mountain Falls during the school year so she can stay involved with the busy lives of her husband, Matt, and two teenage sons, Lairden and Karsten.