Greetings from the campfire!

ELK youth took to the mountains last weekend and I feel fortunate to have tagged along. I am writing you as we sit around the campfire, talking and laughing about the day. We’ve had a whirlwind of a time. Just check out all the stuff we’ve been learning!

ELK youth, staff and volunteers, Rocky Mountain National Park.

Friday night we piled in the vans to meet the National Park Service Education Staff for a late night program about creatures of the night. We explored our 5 senses, taste, sight, sound, touch and smell and compared them the nocturnal animals of the forest. Angel Caraveo-Ramos, an up and coming ELK leader, told me that she really liked how the rangers made the program interactive. They had us smelling, tasting and touching just like we belonged in the park. So much fun!

Then we headed down to the visitor center where the National Park Service staff and volunteers had set up different kinds of telescopes so that visitors could check out the night sky. Samantha Gilmore informed me that most of the telescopes were reflecting telescopes that means that they use bit mirrors to bounce light around to create the close image that we see. Christen James, 9 years old, was able to look up at the moon and see craters for the first time in his life. This is his second trip to Rocky Mountain National Park with ELK and he says he can’t wait for next year.

ELK’s Education Director Matt Crouse stayed extra late with a few young future cosmologists who were engrossed in an intense conversation about black holes and gravitational force with a really great volunteer, amateur quantum physicist, and real-world engineer. On the way back to the car, Abraham Giles told me that he wants to study astronomy in college because he is interested in knowing what is beyond this planet. He’ll be a junior in high school this year, and I just can’t wait to see what he becomes.

We did so much on our camping trip – more to come soon!

Liberty Shellman
Resource Development Assistant
Environmental Learning for Kids