On an epically beautiful Colorado day in September, the 5th grade at SMWS loaded into parent’s cars for 3 days and 2 nights stay in Estes Park at YMCA of the Rockies. Our trip began in the Rocky Mountain National Park where we completed about a 5-mile hike. It was a trek for some—the phlegmatics! But for others it seemed a breeze up and a sprint down. We stopped for a snack at Alberta waterfall on the way up and ate lunch at beautiful Mills Lake at the end of our ascent! Some children braved the alpine water temps with accidental slips into the edge of the lake. OOPS! After lunch we descended back down the trail and loaded into our cars to caravan to the YMCA, where we would stay for the following two nights.
During the course of our stay, the children participated in team building exercises designed to create a little group frustration, in order to engage the children in problem solving skills and encourage working together. Adults were instructed to remain totally neutral. What a role to be in as a parent! After years of helping our children out of tough situations, it was fascinating to watch them work it out themselves! They really can do it!! By working together through these tasks, group characteristics such as communication, cooperation, trust and leadership were clearly enhanced.
Another highlight was our ecology hike. Rocky Mountain National Park is within the Montane Bioregion, which is approximately 8,000 to 9,500 feet above sea level. Within this belt thrive many different ecosystems, such as the Ponderosa Pine Forests, the Douglas Fir Forests, Mountain Grasslands and Meadows, Quaking Aspen Forests, and Lodgepole Pine Forests. The YMCA, where we stayed, is in the Montane Zone and lent itself to a very educational on site hike, where we encountered bugling Elk!
If you have not experienced Elk at a close distance bugling, put it on your bucket list… It’s a must. We even heard them at night on our enchanting night hike.
In addition to the many highlights during our time together was the amazing food prepared by our in house class chef, Deanna Waldron—one of the parents in our class.
All in all, we experienced breathtaking views, good laughs, moments of challenge, and moments of sweet kindness, all accompanied by the soundtrack of bugling Elk. Not sure it gets better then that! Oh except, I guess it does~
We also roasted marshmallows, went swimming, played mini golf, and enjoyed just “hanging out” together, while creating magical memories.
Photo Credit Jennifer Towle, 5th Grade Parent
by Laurel Mulholland, 5th Grade Parent