A Glimpse into the 11th Grade Project Week 2012-13

Location: Vagabond Ranch

Description: The 11th grade spent project week north of Granby, Colorado at the Vagabond Ranch Huts. An SMWS parent hosted the visit on his ranch. The class chose this trip for the opportunity to participate in trail work on a ranch, adjoining a public forest. The Class Sponsors also wanted the students to have an experience in preparation for senior solos, to gain some outdoor safety education.

Work: The students worked 4 hours each day in the woods for 3 days to construct or rebuild both private trails on Vagabond Ranch and U.S. Forest Service trails needing maintenance on the adjoining USFS land in a connecting trail system.  They constructed about 1700 feet of trail in that time.  Work was supervised by members of Contour Logic, a profession dirt bike trail construction company hired by Vagabond Ranch, and included U.S. Forest Service workers. Tools were provided by Contour Logic. The class also stacked 3 cords of firewood for Vagabond Ranch.

Education: The trip host provided an afternoon lecture on safety (hypothermia, dehydration, and wild animals.) The head of Contour Logic provided information on tool usage and safety training. Students learned the proper usage of the following tools:  pickmatic, McCloud, pixie, rake, shovel, and pulaski’s and learned to construct trails of the proper width and slope for proper drainage.  The students also learned about pine-bark beetle kill and observed the effects the trees; the forest they were in was about 90% dead from beetle kill.

Meals:  Students cooked all the meals, supervised by the sponsors, girls one day, boys the next, and provided meals for the trail workers and chaperones as well.   We had hot meals for breakfast and dinner, and cold sandwiches for lunch.

Play:  The class had downtime every afternoon and evening following their work from 10 to 2.  Activities included: hot tub, hikes, swimming, hike and swim as a class to Lost Lake (driven to the trail head in an open wagon), friendship bracelets, discussion of Cabaret, sitting by the fire, reading, gathering around the campfire at night under the stars, playing cards, celebrating a birthday, and volleyball. 

Below is a description provided by Betsy Kabrick, 11th Grade Sponsor:

According to the students, “This was the best Project Week ever!”   I agree, completely.  What made this trip work so well was that we slept really well indoors in the lodges (it was so nice to not have to set up tents) with daily showers available so we were able to cheerfully cook meals, clean up and do trail work during the day.  We had plenty of unstructured time, which the students really enjoyed, and we allowed them to use their phones to take photos and play music throughout the trip.  Spirits were high, we really bonded as a class, including the 2 new international students, the food was terrific, the work was meaningful with visible results, the land was amazingly beautiful (peak fall color for the Aspens!), and everyone got along great together. Students who wanted to run had great trails to run on, that we built!  Stacking wood was incredibly fun as we lined up 6 to 8 of us and tossed wood from one to the next in a chain:  total team work.  This was the first year for this trip and I hope it can continue for years to come.  There are miles of trails that need maintenance that the US Forest Service doesn’t have the time or money to keep up with.  Contour Logic was fantastic at educating and supervising the students in an upbeat way. The land is incredibly beautiful, with a creek running through it, a pond, a nearby lake and both meadows and forests.  We could build on our outdoor education here, perhaps having more preparation for senior solos on this wild land.  Several students expressed interest in doing volunteer work with Contour Logic in the future, and some senior projects may emerge from this trip as well.  It was wonderful to bond together, be outdoors in the woods all day, and get some really good work done.

 Additional Details:

Class Sponsors: Nick Hilliard and Betsy Kabrick

Trip: 5 days

Number of Students: 17

Mode of Transportation: One rental van and 4 private vehicles

Hours spent driving:  Approximately 3 hours

Accommodations:  2 Lodges at Vagabond Ranch, one for the boys, one for the girls, each with a full kitchen.