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Why Sanborn Gap?

The Sanborn Gap Semester is designed to bring people together into a strong, supportive community to discover how to make the outdoors an integral part of their lives. Challenges in an outdoor group environment provide the perfect classroom for people looking to gain crucial skills for success in both academic and professional spheres.

Sanborn Gap Semester Mission:

“Empowering you to lead a life of discovery”


A Community Unlike Any Other

While many grapple with distanced academic learning and decreased social opportunity, the Sanborn Gap Semester offers a solution. We’ve been building powerful communities at the Colorado Outdoor Education Center for over 70 years. These 64 days are a chance to find:

  • Lifelong Friendships
  • Adventure Partners
  • Mentorship from Career Outdoor Professionals

Your Place in the Outdoors

Meaningful experiences in the outdoors are a launchpad for opportunity both personally and professionally.

  • Explore the American Southwest
  • Receive multiple industry-recognized certifications
  • Understand the impacts of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the outdoors
  • Connect directly with experts and industry professionals through a guest speaker series
  • Discover how the outdoors can enrich many varying career paths
  • Engage with modern conservation and environmental ethics
  • Experience risk management techniques firsthand

Certifications and Courses

  • Wilderness First Responder
  • Mental Health First Aid
  • American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) Level 1 Avalanche Training
  • Sport Climbing Leading Course
  • Bike Instructor Certification Program (BICP) Ride Leader Class

Whether you end up pursuing a career in the outdoor industry or simply embed a passion for the outdoors into the rest of your life, you’ll learn how to navigate the world of opportunities available to you.

21st Century Skills

A supportive community and direct mentorship are the foundation for immense personal growth through intentionally curated, challenging experiences. Tackling these challenges will require us to hone essential skills:

  • Problem Solving
  • -Resilience
  • Healthy Communication
  • Adaptability
  • Collaboration
  • Leadership
  • Initiative
  • Creativity
  • Interpersonal Skills

The skillset developed through outdoor learning in the gap semester environment is relevant far after our course ends. These 21st century skills developed and strengthened on the gap semester empower participants in all aspects of their social, academic, and professional lives.

What Makes Us Different?

Our goal at the Sanborn Gap Semester is to do more than simply provide a opportunity for challenge in the outdoors. Each of our staff professionals has found our lives deeply enriched by the personal bonds, self-growth, and leadership opportunities inherent in outdoor experiences. To us, success is giving you the tools you need to take your experience at Sanborn out into the world.

Empowerment is a big word for us here. At the end of the Sanborn Gap Semester you will feel empowered to see yourself thriving and contributing to your community back home. We are committed to ensuring this experience will enrich the trajectories of each of our participants.

And what else?

  • home campus in Florissant, CO throughout the semester (1 hr. west of Colorado Springs, 2 hrs. from Denver Airport)
  • staffed by year-round professionals from the Colorado Outdoor Education Center
  • comprehensive instruction in four pursuits: backpacking, skiing, rock climbing, mountain biking
  • in-person connection to professionals from many careers and life paths
  • emphasis on transferable skills to future personal trips
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