Frequently Asked Questions
Big Spring Ranch for Boys and High Trails Ranch for Girls are located on 6000 private acres in the heart of the Colorado Rockies, 35 miles west of Colorado Springs.
The average age of our counselors is 21 and each must have a minimum of two years of college or travel/work experience. Many are returning staff or were once campers at Sanborn Western Camps; others are referred by friends or camp families. All staff members go through a rigorous application process which includes multiple references, a personal interview, and a fingerprint based background check. Decisions are made on the basis of experience and interest in working with children and skill and experience in outdoor activities. All staff must be certified in Red Cross and First Aid and many staff members have Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First Responder, Lifeguard Training and other advanced certifications.
Colorado is famous for blue skies and plenty of sun. At an elevation of 8,500 feet, the camps’ average daytime temperature in the summer is about 80 degrees F. Evenings are cool, usually 50-55 degrees F. Occasionally, we have an afternoon rain shower. Many of our trips into the high country camp above or near timberline and these temperatures can drop to below freezing, even in July! It is best to be prepared for all types of weather and is important to refer to our Outfit List when packing.
Soon after arriving at camp, campers at Big Spring and High Trails fill out a trip sign-up sheet with the guidance of their counselors and program leaders. These trips include all-day and overnight adventures as well as mountain experiences 3-5 days in length. Each camper’s individual trip choices are placed on a calendar by the Program Director. Campers then choose daily activities on a weekly basis for the times they do not have trips. During the term, there are also a number of all-camp activities, especially in the evenings, as well as trips and activities which each living unit participates in together.
About a third of our campers arrive by car with parents, other family members, or friends. Other campers fly into the Colorado Springs Airport or Denver International Airport. Staff members meet children at both airports, help them collect their luggage, and take them to chartered buses or vans for the trip to camp. Upon arrival at camp, these campers are greeted by staff members and their luggage is delivered to their living units. The fun begins right away!
Yes. Although each camp has its own complete facilities and staff and most programs are separate, the camps get together once a week for an all-camp event: Gymkhana, Carnival, Country Fair, Olympics, etc. Older campers from the two camps often have additional opportunities to meet for activities and 8th, 9th, and 10th graders are offered a coed service based leadership trip.
No. Campers and staff of several faiths and beliefs attend Sanborn. Each week we have a “Sunday Rocks” service which is non-sectarian and celebrates camp values like friendship or appreciation of beauty. We sing camp songs and watch the sun set. Before each meal we sing a grace.
The two-week Sanborn Junior program is available to children who have completed the second through fourth grades. The month-long program at Big Spring and High Trails is appropriate for young people who have completed the third through tenth grades. Sanborn Junior campers follow an established schedule which gives them the opportunity to experience many outdoor activities. They participate in most activities as a group and stay with their own counselors.
Campers at High Trails and Big Spring have a great deal of choice in trips and activities. With the guidance of counselors, each chooses an individual schedule. Many of our off-the-ranch trips, like mountain climbs and overnight horse trips, are not available to Sanborn Junior campers. These trips are available to third and fourth grade campers at High Trails and Big Spring and provide age-appropriate levels of challenge.
Each camp has a modern and well-equipped health center with a registered nurse on duty. We work closely with physicians in Woodland Park and Colorado Springs. It is a 30-minute drive to Pikes Peak Regional Hospital and there is an EMS service based in Florissant.
If you talk to anyone who has been to camp, they will tell you that our food is excellent. Our cooks, who have been with us for years, prepare well-balanced meals from fresh ingredients. Our bakery produces homemade breads, cookies, and other delicious desserts daily. We provide a vegetarian option at each meal and are able to make accommodations for most food allergies.
Consistent with our goals of promoting self-reliance, strong social connections and appreciation of the natural world, we limit the use of electronic and multi-use devices at Big Spring and High Trails. Campers should not bring cell phones, laptop computers, video games, or video/DVD players to camp. When campers carry any of these items for travel to and from camp, we will collect and store the items during the session and return them for the flight home. MP3 players and iPods may be brought to camp, but their use is very limited and loss or damage is always a risk.
The American Camp Association is an organization of professionals who join together to enhance the value and quality of the camp experience for the children who attend our programs. The ACA is the only national camp accreditation authority, and camps must maintain a high level of safety, program quality, and youth development practices to meet the 300 standards established by the ACA. Each accredited camp is visited by a team of trained camp professionals to assure that the standards are being implemented. Sanborn Western Camps has been accredited by the ACA for more than 60 years.
In addition, Sanborn Western Camps are licensed by the Child Care Division of the Colorado Department of Human Services. Colorado is one of the few states which has a rigorous licensure process for resident camps, including visits by State Licensing Inspectors.