CHALLENGE YOUR SENSE OF ADVENTURE
|Challenge Your Sense of Adventure|
VMS's outdoor education program provides opportunities for mountain biking, rock climbing, rafting, backpacking, horseback riding, mountain climbing, fly fishing, and skiing adventures. Students travel with faculty throughout places in Colorado and Utah to explore group challenges and inner limits. These experiences are integrated with academic curriculum to provide a well-rounded education.
Beginning in the fifth grade, students participate in backcountry hut trips. Using the Tenth Mountain Hut system, telemark skiing is encouraged as the method of travel. Students and faculty join together in planning and preparing for these two- to three-day treks. Hut trips provide a refreshing outdoor environment to improve communication skills and awareness of the natural world.
Vail Mountain School is an equal opportunity service provider and operates under special use permit from the White River National Forest.
Community service at Vail Mountain School is an important component of our mission. Students are encouraged to broaden their sense of humanity through service projects throughout the year. All service is volunteer-based; none is required. Homebase teachers strongly encourage participation and most faculty model good service by volunteering to lead an activity.
In keeping with Vail Mountain School tradition, student participation is widespread in annual events, including the Vail Mountain School Home Tour, Adopt-a-Family food and gift drives, Eagle County food drives, Volunteerism Days, and Vail Mountain School cross-age tutoring.
Many opportunities arise throughout the year, in which students can volunteer either with their classmates or as individuals. Middle and upper school students have volunteered with the Eagle, Minturn, and McCoy Senior Centers; the Buddies Program; Grant Street Soup Kitchen; Summit Recycling; Salvation Army Food Pantry; World Vision; Family Learning Center; Eagle County Head Start; Youth Conservation Corps; Tenth Mountain Division Hut System; Habitat for Humanity; the Literacy Project; Meet the Wilderness; Summit, Edwards, and Eagle Thrift stores; Ronald McDonald House; Vail Valley Medical Center Hospital Luncheon; and the Avon Police Department.
Student and faculty initiatives guide our school in the best way to respond to national and world needs. Students are encouraged to "sponsor" activities that are important to them. Student-initiated projects have included a book drive for a school in Las Vegas; a ski race to raise money for victims of the tsunami; a toy collection for families in Oaxaca, Mexico; a toy drive for "Kids Helping Kids" to support victims of Hurricane Katrina; a personal care collection for victims of Hurricane Katrina; and a collection of backpacks for homeless children served at the soup kitchen.
Parents play a valuable role in supporting the school’s commitment to service. Certain activities such as volunteering at the Soup Kitchen in Denver and Cowboy Dreams in Eagle rely on parent help to occur. Please contact the faculty sponsor to volunteer. The community service department encourages parents to share their volunteer experiences. If your family is involved in community service programs unrelated to the school, please let VMS know. Your experiences could inspire others to become involved or alert the school to other needs in the community.
Vail Mountain School initiated Ethically Engaged Youth service programs during the summer of 2007. During that inaugural season, trip leaders teamed with non-government organizations to lead VMS students in service learning projects in New Orleans, Nepal, and India. Since then, the program has expanded in scope, and in 2010, changed its name to Students Shoulder to Shoulder (SStS). The settings and intensities are varied, yet all of the trips successfully meet the goals of the program‘s mission:
Students Shoulder to Shoulder (SStS) is a full immersion, service program whose mission is to offer high school students (including post-graduates) a comprehensive appreciation for the cultural, economic, geographic, and political confluence that results in endemic conditions of poverty. The program’s core is a protracted service project, supplemented by educational seminars and public presentations. Working side-by-side with local peoples is a fundamental tenet of SStS. To realize this mission, the program connects youth with non-profit organizations of kindred philosophical and practical principles.
To learn more about SStS, please click here
and read below.
SStS - Kenya 2009
In June 2009, eight students, accompanied by Mike Beerntsen and Christina White as their trip leaders, travelled to Kenya for 18 days. The group spent a majority of their time working with their partner NGO, International Peace Initiatives (IPI). The focal point of the group’s work was assisting IPI in the completion of their first Amani Community Home. These homes are orphanages that aim to allow children who have often lost one or both parents to AIDS to remain connected to their own communities while also lessening the financial impact of raising them on their extended families. Consequently, the Amani Community Homes aim to be as self-sustaining as possible. In pursuit of this goal, the SStS group helped to build chicken coops and goat pens on the site in addition to expanding its organic farm and helping to landscape the facilities. Throughout all of their work, the group worked side-by-side with local Kenyan work crews. In the process of their shared labor, meaningful relationships developed and invaluable opportunities for cultural exchanges arose. At the end of the program, the group also had the opportunity to learn more about the Kenyan landscape by participating in a two-day safari.
SStS - Nepal 2009
Also in the summer of 2009, nine SStS team members joined forces with Taksindu Social Welfare (TSW) to engage in service work in Nepal. Included in their accomplishments, the group of 30 constructed from scratch a toilet/bathhouse and septic tank for Taksindu Gumba (monastery/school); gathered clay from the Nepali cloud forest and painted the Buddhist school; and dug and buried one kilometer of water pipe up a 50 degree rainforest pitch, which allowed SStS’s sister school, Chuulemu, to have running water 12 months of the year. In addition to these side-by-side service projects with TSW and local community members, SStS students helped teach English at Continental Academy, a start-up school located in a poverty stricken area of Kathmandu. In completing this tangible service work, SStS endured monsoon rains, leeches, and physically/mentally demanding situations. Every individual grew tremendously, specifically gaining insightful knowledge through SStS's five lenses: geographic, cultural, ethical, political, and economic. As a result of their hard work, SStS won a prestigious award given by the Nepali government for significant contributors to Nepali communities.
SStS - New Orleans 2009
On June 13, 2009, twelve students from four different high schools, accompanied by Ms. Blakslee and Mr. Lasher, traveled to the crescent city of New Orleans, Louisiana to engage in a week of service-oriented work and cultural experiences. This year's SStS group worked side-by-side with three differnet Non-Government Organizations (NGO's) in a variety of capacities. The group began their trip working with the Katrina Corps, sprucing up a community center in the Lower Ninth Ward. They then spent two days working with Beacon of Hope, painting, staining, and landscaping two homes in the Gentilly neighborhood. The final two days were spent working with the New Orleans Rec District, cleaning and painting playground equipment in two different New Orleans neighborhoods. Students worked hard each day in the 100+ degree heat. Long days working in the hot sun were complimented by fun and exciting cultural activities in the evenings. Working with the locals and hearing their stories, enjoying the warm southern hospitality of the Bolyard family, Ms. Maggie, and Ms. Crissy--these are experiences the SStS trip members will never forget.
|Awaken Your Curiosity|
Opportunities for personal exploration and interpersonal growth abound in various VMS-sponsored trips offered throughout the year.
As a culminating experience before graduating from the middle school, the 8th grade class travels to our state’s capital for three days each spring. In addition to serving the Denver community through service, students engage in curriculum-related activities such as visiting local museums, viewing exhibits, or touring the State Capitol building. Time is also spent enjoying the many cultural aspects of a large metropolitan city as the class may attend a play or a Broadway-style musical.
The 9th grade trip to a Spanish-speaking country gives students an opportunity to practice their language skills in real life situations. Living with a host family creates daily conversations between student and family. In addition to living in a Hispanic home, the students travel around the country, visiting local sites of interest and national parks.
The 10th grade college trip in the spring provides students with the opportunity to visit one public and two private universities in Colorado to observe the differences and begin their exploration for a good college match.
Since 1990, senior classes have traveled to New York City in April. The trip culminates their time together and provides an opportunity to share an environment that is quite different from that of the rural Central Rockies. This class adventure combines academic and aesthetic components with Broadway and baseball as well as plenty of time for socializing.