WEDNESDAY-FRIDAY of the first week of school

What is Middle School Outdoor Ed like in the fall?
We're backpacking, in small groups, in the surrounding wilderness. Each group of 10 to 14 students travels on a route chosen specifically for hikers of this age.

Why backpacking?
Backpacking is a passport to the some of the best locations and experiences in the natural world. We'll be learning some essential skills to foster confidence and competence in the backcountry: setting up tarps, cooking, digging a backcountry latrine, caring for waste and food, route finding, and general self-care in the wilderness. A trip like this also deepens understanding of the five core values of our school: character, respect, responsibility, community, and perseverance.

Who goes in each group?
  • 10 to 14 students from all three Middle School grades
  • Two to three teachers, staff members, and alumni as leaders
  • At least one adult on each trip is a certified Wilderness First Responder
When & where?
All pickup and dropoff is on campus in the central plaza. Parents should park and make their way to the plaza to meet the Outdoor Ed transportation in the plaza.
  • Depart from campus: 8 am, Wednesday of the first week of school
  • Return to campus: 3 pm, Friday (total trip length 3 days, 2 nights)
When do we find out where we're going?
On the first day of school, the Tuesday after Labor Day, all Middle School students receive their group assignment and itinerary. Parents receive an email that same morning.

How can I get ready?
All trips will be physically demanding, as we'll be carrying heavy packs, often uphill, for a couple miles. We encourage all Middle Schoolers to get out and hike as conditioning for the trip. Get a couple of friends together and make it fun!

What should I bring?
All gear will be carried in a backpack. See the packing list below. If you need to borrow a school backpack, please email collettenewell@aspencountryday.net
1: Hike uphill
Even better, carry a pack while doing this essential training.
2: Find your pack
We recommend a pack with a capacity of 60-70 litres. For an example of the type of pack we recommend, please click here. If you are looking for more advice on finding a pack, click here
3: Decide if you want to borrow a school pack
If you would like to borrow a pack from ACDS, email Collette Newell right away: collettenewell@aspencountryday.net. A pack will be reserved for you and issued on Tuesday, the first day of school. You should bring your gear to school in a duffle or big plastic bag that morning.
4: Consider the weather
The weather in the mountains is variable. It could rain, sleet, or even snow in the high country. Many of the groups will be traveling above tree line so the temps will be cooler than in town. Be prepared!  Pack warm clothes, even if the day is warm and sunny the evening temperatures may drop into the 30's.  You MUST bring rain gear and warm layers for cold evenings.

5: Pack intelligently
Students: pack your own pack! (Core value: responsibility) Parents can help make wise clothing choices, but you should be able to put it all in the packs by yourself, including stuffing the sleeping bag into a stuff sack. There must be additional room in your pack to carry some group gear. (Core value: community) We will be doing a pack check on the first day of school.
6: Use this packing list
  • Backpack - approx 65 litres
  • Small compressible daypack
  • 2 Nalgene (water bottles) full of water
  • Hiking boots that support the ankle
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Camping bowl
  • Camping spoon/fork
  • Camping cup
  • Headlamp with extra batteries
  • Hat or visor
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen/small
  • Winter hat
  • Winter gloves
  • 2 pairs of socks: smartwool-type or non-cotton only
  • Warm coat (down jacket)
  • Fleece coat
  • Long underwear (top and bottom)
  • Non-cotton t-shirt
  • Non-cotton shorts
  • Rain pant
  • Rain jacket
  • Toothbrush/paste
  • ONE LUNCH for the first day
  • SNACKS for THREE DAYS (Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday). ideas for snacks: G.O.R.P., salami, cheese slices, apples, dried fruit, nutrition bars
  • Optional:  pack cover
All students MUST come with their backpack packed and ready for the pack check the first day of school.
NO ELECTRONICS, please, except a headlamp or flashlight: this means no cell phones, no iPods or iPads, games, etc. NO sunglasses or glasses with video capabilities, NO smart watches. Only regular or Rx sunglasses and regular watches. "Radio silence" and a chance to unplug are important aspects of the Outdoor Ed experience. Photos from the trips will be posted shortly after return for parents and children to share.
If you have specific questions on gear, please contact me.
Collette Newell
Director of Outdoor Education
Aspen Country Day School
85 Country Day Way Aspen, Colorado 81611
Phone: 970.925.1909
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