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Discussion Starter #1
im a middle school teacher who guides commercially in colorado during the summer, and im getting ready to approach my school administration about starting the tradition of an 8th grade extended field trip on the river. the potential for using a river corridor for a classroom focusing on ecology, hydraulics, history, geology, etc. is too much to continue to ignore- and the kids i teach need more exposure to the outdoors.
what do you think would be the best stretch for such a trip? these are 8th graders (about 13 years old) and we're leaving from idaho springs. things that come to mind immediately are ruby/horsethief (although perhaps a bit too short and not real scenic), deso/gray, labyrinth and stillwater. i've never done labyrinth or stillwater.

ideas or advice, please??
 

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bth,

If you need more info/help on the logistics/insurance liability part of it I may be able to help. I take students rock climbing, Mtn Biking, mountaineering, rafting/kayaking within my school district.

Rob
 

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I do this yearly for a high school group and an 8th grade group. You must organize this trip commercially according to Colorado State Parks. I will PM you with details. That's great that you are doing this! I think all schools here in Colorado should encourage learning like this!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
bth,

If you need more info/help on the logistics/insurance liability part of it I may be able to help. I take students rock climbing, Mtn Biking, mountaineering, rafting/kayaking within my school district.

Rob
thanks, rob. i'd be interested in knowing about the liability/insurance side of things more than anything else. do you have a form that you might email to me?

bhochmuth at gmail dot com
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I do this yearly for a high school group and an 8th grade group. You must organize this trip commercially according to Colorado State Parks. I will PM you with details. That's great that you are doing this! I think all schools here in Colorado should encourage learning like this!
thanks!
since you organize it through the CSP, do you do something on the upper c?
 

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Yes, we float the Upper C and I know outfitters that will help in Utah too. I have info that pertains to insurance/liability as well and educational materials.

I love to help inspire lifelong love of rivers!
 

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Yes, we float the Upper C and I know outfitters that will help in Utah too. I have info that pertains to insurance/liability as well and educational materials.

I love to help inspire lifelong love of rivers!
hmmmm....this is all very interesting re:the need for a commercial river permit. unfortunately, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome would be the issue of cost- and therefore i worry about the costs associated with connecting a commercial outfitter (nothing against them- i work for one!) to what i see as more of a "field trip."

if there isnt a financial gain- i.e. trip costs are split among participants just as they are on any other private trip i've organized- why the need for a school to use a commerical permit??
 

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Kjirsten
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It's not the commercial river permit you need but the commercial liability insurance which is typically more coverage than the average school district's insurance.

I co-lead an outdoor ed program for two years at my last school. We did mtn biking, rock and ice climbing, trail running and rafting. The rafting was the most difficult because of having to find a commercial outfitter that would volunteer resources for the cause. The company I worked for at the time did it, but we had to do a lot of fundraising to compensate him. The other components of the program were covered by local outfitters with liability insurance.

I took a group of the kids to Costa Rica as a culminating trip to raft, hike, etc. and not only did we have to sign on through a tour company, we had to pay for million dollar liability insurance for the kids. It was worth it though.

hmmmm....this is all very interesting re:the need for a commercial river permit. unfortunately, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome would be the issue of cost- and therefore i worry about the costs associated with connecting a commercial outfitter (nothing against them- i work for one!) to what i see as more of a "field trip."

if there isnt a financial gain- i.e. trip costs are split among participants just as they are on any other private trip i've organized- why the need for a school to use a commerical permit??
 

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thanks, rob. i'd be interested in knowing about the liability/insurance side of things more than anything else. do you have a form that you might email to me?

bhochmuth at gmail dot com
When we go rafting/kayaking we just go through my employers permit (I work there during the season, so no worries there.) We don't notify/ask CO State Parks.

I will look for my general form but again we use my employers release form and then we have/use a basic field trip form that's worded specifically to our trip for the students to take home to parents/guardians.

I will gather our forms. do you have a fax I could send them to?
 

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Unfortunately now it is both the permit and the liability.

Apparently, the Middle Park High School raft trip that was a cost share trip for MANY years appeared too organized like a commercial, and the big issue: when teachers are being paid for the day, it is not cost share. The ranger who shut down the MPHS trip questioned the kids on if they were paying their share for user fees, food, etc. (which they were). Also, the rafts and gear were OWNED BY THE SCHOOL, which made no difference to the ranger. I think Colorado State Parks is concerned (and rightly so) on minimum guide qualifications.

Adventures in Whitewater now does the MPHS trip for only staff and user fee costs on the upper c.

bth, did you get my PM?
 

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bth,

I give grant money to middle school teachers for programs that promote college and career awareness. I see that there are a lot of teachers on here, so all of you should check us out. PM me for our website.

Right now we are primarily serving Wyoming, but we have our sights on the entire western region. If you can demonstrate that your students are representative of a population that is underrepresented in post-secondary education (rural, minority, etc.) and that your proposed program or event will promote college-going or career-minded (i.e. careers in geology or recreation and the degrees that go with them) behaviors I may be able to hook you up with some money for this. PM me for details.

And Kjirsten, you won't qualify because your students are all going to be dirty raft guides by the time you get through with them!
 

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Kjirsten
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Some former students already are, Randy, but I only promote dirty raft guide as a second career choice.

bth,

I give grant money to middle school teachers for programs that promote college and career awareness. I see that there are a lot of teachers on here, so all of you should check us out. PM me for our website.

Right now we are primarily serving Wyoming, but we have our sights on the entire western region. If you can demonstrate that your students are representative of a population that is underrepresented in post-secondary education (rural, minority, etc.) and that your proposed program or event will promote college-going or career-minded (i.e. careers in geology or recreation and the degrees that go with them) behaviors I may be able to hook you up with some money for this. PM me for details.

And Kjirsten, you won't qualify because your students are all going to be dirty raft guides by the time you get through with them!
 

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For several years I worked with Way of the River, a course for high-school students sponsored by the Sweetwater County co-op education project and Western Wyoming College. The institutional backing took care of the liability & insurance issues.

Craig Thompson was in charge of the course. I taught fluvial geomorphology, boating, camping, and safety. With high-school or college instructors for aquatic ecology, water chemistry & quality, and similar topics, including considerable writing and laboratory analyses, we had good results educationally, with quite a few students changing their college majors to biology, geology, etc.

We started at Green River Lakes (headwater of the Green River) and floated the river in sections, ending with the mild class 2 canyon below Flaming Gorge Dam. Because the rental cost of rafts was way high, we located some decent 2-person duckies on sale and bought a fleet of ten or twelve. In five+ years, we had no boating mishaps except for a few slight brushes with hypothermia.

Anyhow, it sounds like a nice idea— hope it works out well.

Chip
 

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Hey there,

Steve Cyphers just retired after 30 years from Evergreen High school and had developed a program like this that took an entire semester. I think the program ran in the 80's or something like that.

He is now a college professor and leads the outdoor leadership program at Colorado Christian University... Here is a link to his page at CCU.

Colorado Christian University

Dont let the whole professor at a Christian college thing throw you. He is a cool guy.

Ben Rodda
 

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Discussion Starter #17
i truly appreciate every ounce of feedback that i have received from each of you that responded- and want to make that fact crystal clear.
as i get deeper into the planning phase of this endeavor, and hope that it will become an integral part of our teaching at the school where i am- i'll face the hurdles associated with the legalities of permits, liability insurance, etc.

for now, though, i'm working to simply provide a proposal to my administration and school board, and want to get back to the original questions of nailing down the best run to make this a reality. again, i think of deso/gray or ruby/horsethief- although both have certain drawbacks. i wonder about either stillwater or labyrinth, and even the stretch from the westwater takeout to the moab daily.

thoughts in that regard????


brett
 

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I just got off a Deso/Gray trip. I think it's a bit long (5-6 days at high water, 7-8 at low flow in the fall) and remote for a middle school group with no particular whitewater experience (and teachers as guides). Even at low water, there are a few rapids where a novice could get into trouble: Steer Ridge, the new Joe Hutch Canyon drop, and Three Fords. Still— a small group with solid camping & paddling experience could have a really good time.

Ruby/Horsethief might be a good bet on weekdays, when there's no competition for campsites (the campsite reservation system is worthless and there are quite a few loud drunks on weekends in summer). There's little if any objective hazard— a good introduction to boating for the novice. You could take paddle rafts, a rowed gear barge, and some duckies and 'yaks as well. I'd do it with two or even three camps, afternoon class sessions and/or sidecanyon natural history hikes.

One option would be to do the Ruby/Horsethief float as the educational part, then hook up with an outfitter for a day shot through Westwater. That'd give the students a good float with an academic atmosphere and then a taste of whitewater for a final thrill.

Could do the daily run above Moab as a two-day with a drive-in camp at one of the BLM campgrounds (wouldn't need to haul gear on the boats). At high water 20k+ there are some places where a novice could get into trouble. Lower flows, no sweat.

Never done Labyrinth/Stillwater. Pretty canyons & dreamy slow water, I hear.
 

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SarahofTheWaves
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Very cool

I have done Labyrinth/Stillwater. In a canoe. Class I. the river is very mellow.
It would be a great classroom. Mining history, indigenous history, river ecology issues, geology, etc. Plus you are visiting a National Park, which has a lot of great resources: the White Rim, trails down to the river, Upheaval Dome, etc.

If nothing else, you'd teach many 13 year old to love the desert.

Good luck.
 
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