Wild Pagosa plans summer 2009 institute

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, “… our highly structured lives, lived primarily indoors, are not good for our children’s health. Today we are raising a generation of children who have lost their connections with the outdoors. It is a crisis that has become known as ‘nature deficit disorder.’”

With that in mind, the fact that we live in one of the most gorgeous places on earth, and a passion for children, science and nature, four local teachers (Varina Boudreaux, Mary Kaye Mayo, Lue Armbrecht and Andrea Ash) set out to offer a remedy.

Wild Pagosa, an outdoor summer institute for kids, completed a successful program with 19 participants in June 2008. Their enthusiasm convinced Wild Pagosa’s founders of the need for ongoing and expanded programming for the youth of Pagosa Springs. For the summer of 2009, three week-long sessions will be offered beginning in June, with Backyard Habitats for 6- and 7-year-olds. In July, there will be two week-long sessions: Wet and Wild Expedition for 8- and 9-year-olds, and Wilderness Quest for 10- and 11-year-olds, which will culminate in an overnight camping trip.

All Wild Pagosa enrollees will participate in hands-on activities, exploration hikes, and will keep naturalists’ journals daily. They will study and practice the Leave No Trace principals and complete team-building activities. Younger participants will make daily theme-related snacks and crafts, while their older counterparts will accomplish community service projects. Local outdoor experts, such as U.S. Forest Service geologist Glenn Raby, and naturalist Becky Gillette, southwest regional director of the Audubon Society, will enhance the program with their expertise.

The goal of Wild Pagosa is for youngsters to get out in nature to experience it for themselves and subsequently become stewards of the earth. If this sounds like something you want for your child, think about enrolling him or her now, as each session is limited to 20 participants. Through the generosity of local donors like GECKO (Getting Every Child Knowledge of the Outdoors), Terry’s Ace Hardware, Dave and Lue Armbrecht, and the Wild Turkey Federation, there will be scholarship money available.

For more information, call 946-8612, or visit the Web site at wildpagosa.homestead.com.