In Durango, snow-capped mountains are visible in the distance and the aspen leaves are turning varying shades of red and yellow. These elements not only signify a change in season but also serve to remind us that the move to our winter course area in Utah is drawing near.
Our southeastern Utah location boasts a dry and temperate climate; a welcomed alternative to the more harsh and snowy landscapes of Colorado winters. Our Operations team has been hard at work in our Utah course area constructing a variety of new structures, designed to enhance base camp.
One significant change to base camp is the creation of gravel pathways to/from and within each group’s camp. Why does this matter? Historically, one of the biggest challenges in winter is the clay and mud build-up inherent to the land. “Putting gravel down on trails and in the camps will vastly improve the student experience,” said Greg Ooley, Operations Director. “When students return to base camp each week, they’ll spend less time cleaning and drying themselves and their gear. This allows for more time to engage in therapeutic assignments, letter writing, therapy, and skill-building.”
Camp shelters are also a welcome addition to each group site. “Camp shelters give students and guides an organized, permanent, and sheltered structure to prepare food, organize cookware and utensils as well as group and personal gear ” Ooley noted
Canvas Wall Tents with Potbelly Stoves
Also new this year, all group sites will have canvas wall tents furnished with potbelly stoves. The canvas tents will be used for sleeping, drying gear after expedition, and for group yoga. When the stove is utilized, it will provide enough warmth for students to be comfortable in T-shirts while inside the tent even if temperatures are colder outside.
Shower Stall Structures
Each group site will now have permanent shower stall structures. The new individual shower structures will allow for warm showers throughout the week.
As always, tipis (a defining feature of Open Sky’s winter base camp) will continue to provide shelter during the winter. Tipis are a great place to gather around the fire, hold group sessions, and eat meals. Tipis are also used to host graduation ceremonies for our families and students.
At Open Sky, we constantly pursue excellence in order to provide the safest and most effective programming for our students and families. The addition of gravel pathways, camp structures, individual shower stalls, and heated canvas wall tents serve to further enhance the therapeutic wilderness experience for adolescents and young adults.