By Joseph Smittick, ELK 2016 Urban Ranger
On June 7th, the 2016 ELK Urban Rangers embarked on a three-day training trip to Colorado State University’s Mountain Campus. The purpose of this trip was to not only prepare the Rangers for the tasks required of them, but also to bring the Rangers together through team-building activities and fellowship, to create a cohesive bond that would last throughout the summer.
I, being brand new to ELK and the Urban Ranger program, was a little nervous and excited about going on this trip. I distinctly remember restlessly dreaming about what all the trip would entail. Once we arrived at CSU’s Mountain Campus, we all marveled at how beautiful it was, especially the Rangers who had never been there before. Shortly after unloading our belongings and eating lunch, we hit the ground running. We began our training by learning about the history and purpose of ELK. Then we rehearsed how to teach fishing clinics. After finishing our training for the day we had free time to do activities like hiking and fly fishing. After a long day of driving, training, and outdoor fun, we were all pretty tired, but there was one more piece of business to be taken care of. At the end of every day the Urban Rangers have a small assembly to discuss everyone’s favorite and least favorite parts of the day.
On the second day in the morning we went through two ropes courses. Everyone participated in the low ropes course, where we had to help each other make it through an array of obstacles. After the low ropes course, the people who were brave enough tried the stunts offered on the high ropes course. This activity was really fun and it brought all of us together, whether we were doing the stunts ourselves or cheering others on. In the afternoon Mike, from the National Park Service, educated us a little on evergreens and other plants found in Colorado. He brought in a few samples to show us the characteristics of certain plants.
Finally, on day three we ended our training with a hike to Denny’s Point (where there is no Denny’s by the way). Once we reached the peak we had a small activity where each of us got a card. These cards were then passed around and everyone wrote in the cards why they enjoyed being on a team with that individual.
Before this training I was really excited, but I was also really nervous about the people I would meet. Through this training I was able to really make lasting bonds with the other rangers. I commend ELK for providing the Urban Rangers with this opportunity, and I hope that future Rangers will enjoy this experience as much as I did!