Bouldering, hikes, and a “solo”

The Kindergarten’s spring overnight camping trip to Western Colorado is a landmark expedition, marking the first of many desert adventures. Students practice team-building along with camping skills. They explore the geology of the area, learning about flora and fauna, constellations, and more. All outdoor ed trips foster development of the school’s five core values: character, respect, responsibility, community, and perseverance.

A stop at a playground near Grand Junction is always a favorite feature of the spring Kindergarten outdoor education overnight.

The children go hiking and bouldering at Colorado National Monument. We spend the first day setting up our campsite and going for a hike. Upon our return, we have games and learning activities, dinner, and a sunset hike. After a campfire with s’mores, it’s time for bed; the children sleep in tents or, weather permitting, under the stars. In the morning, after a hearty breakfast, we pack up and have more activities, visiting the Dinosaur Museum in Fruita before lunch. We are back on campus for the end of the school day.

All Outdoor Education expeditions are tech-free. “Radio silence” and a chance to unplug are important for children to experience. Photos from the trips are posted shortly after return for parents and children to share.

Sample packing list

wear on the first day

• shoes & socks for hiking (example Salomon trailrunners with good rubber tread)
• pants for hiking
• shorts underneath for when it warms up
• shirt for hiking (non-cotton; tech or smartwool-type fabrics are best)
• layers on top for hiking (fleece jacket or pullover/sweatshirt)

Pack in a duffel:

• 1 pair sneakers or tennis shoes
• extra socks (warm ones for in camp, plus another pair for next day, Smartwool-type preferred)
• warm hat for evening
• gloves or mittens
• cozy bedtime shirt or pjs
• underwear for day 2
• warm jacket in case it gets cold
• warm pants for in camp
• sleeping bag with waterproof stuff sack (not a compression sack, one the child can stuff independently or with just a little help
• an empty heavy-duty garbage bag in case anything gets wet
• non-inflatable sleeping pad (best are the ridged foam kind that don’t need to be inflated)
• toothbrush & travel-size toothpaste
• comb
• stuffed animal or doll
• headlamp or small flashlight (NO other electronics, please)
• snack and lunch for the first day*
• wide-mouthed water bottle (Nalgene-style, and full) (1 of 2)


Pack in a small day pack

• snack for the first day*
• lunch for the first day*
• wide-mouthed water bottle (Nalgene-style, and full) (2 of 2)
• hat with visor (very important for the sun)
• sunglasses
• sunscreen
• lip protection with SPF
• rain jacket, waterproof

*On the Kindergarten trip, we find that the children eat more heartily and are better prepared for activity if they have one lunch and snacks from home. All other meals are provided. Please pack a lunch and snack to be brought along in the small backpack for the first day. If your child is an especially picky eater or has dietary restrictions, please let the trip leaders know so we can plan dinner accordingly. NO CANDY on any trip, please!

a video to help families get ready for spring trips in Lower School

Complete instructions and staffing lists arrive via ParentSquare shortly before each trip. At least one certified Wilderness First Responder accompanies every expedition. NOLS Risk Services of the National Outdoor Leadership School has recently completed a comprehensive analysis of policies and procedures for the Outdoor Education program at Aspen Country Day School. This program operates under special use permit from the USDA Forest Service, White River National Forest.