Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Best Memories by Mac Kelsall (Camper)

So far at camp it’s been fun, but my favorite part so far is when we got to go speed boating with our cabin. We went to Electra Lake and loaded the boat in the water; after that we drove out in the middle of the lake. We got to try wake skating. Wake skating is like wake boarding but your feet are not attached to the board, and you are on a small surf board. I got up first time and was like surfing behind a boat. I could go in and out of the wake sometimes but I would fall a lot. It was my first time ever doing it and it, was a blast. I want to keep doing it from now on

Camp by Adam Hawkings (Camper)

            My experiences here at Durango Mountain Camp were very helpful. Also, my reading and comprehension has increased two grades levels. My tutor was amazing, she would help me improve and master my cursive writing. She expanded my vocabulary with Latin and Greek prefixes including pre, per, pro, in, and many more. Also, she expanded my spelling Techniques. For example, if I were to spell the word computer, I would count it out in syllabus and then write one less dash. Com/put/er, see three syllables and two dashes one less.

            Writing was very loose. He explained how it was important to able to write. Everyday we would go down to the river, and write what was on our mind. Then we would start on our independent project. After we finished we would either improve our witting, or write a blog for the website.

            It is not hard to make a friend here. Everyone likes everyone and everyone helps everyone. The outdoor pursuits are very intense. There is kayaking, mountain biking, wild Colorado, horses, scuba, and climbing. For kayaking, you can be in either be in rubber boats or a hard shell kayak. For mountain biking, you bike on trails all around Durango depending on your skill. Also for Wild Colorado, you do a lot, including caving, canoeing, making fires, and shelters. Horses you feed and groom them, and take the on trail rides. Scuba we sat in class learning how to dive and equalize. Next we got in the pool practiced skills and our last day we went to a lake to get our certification. Last but not least is climbing. In climbing we learn to tie our knots for our harness. Then we learned how to climb and how to belay or get down.

            On the weekends we would do something fun with our counselors or do something as a camp. We would ether go tubing, climb a fourteen, or hang with our counselors and cabin.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The hike by Josie Osberg (Camper)

The hike yesterday was a very hard hike. I can not believe that I actually made it all the way to the top! I was walking very slowly for most of the walk, but slow and steady wins the race (even though it wasn’t a race) At the top we finally got to eat our lunch, but it was just a sandwich and it was not enough food because we were all starving coming back down the mountain. The going up was scary and very hard but the coming down was super scary. We were walking down the side of the mountain with little loose rocks so we were all slipping and sliding down the mountain. This made it very difficult to get down the mountain. Finally when we got off the scary part of the mountain it was just an easy walk down an easier path. When we got back to the car, everyone was laying on the rocks while we waited for the last two girls to come down. After they got down the last little part we got to eat brownies! They were a perfect treat for everyone at the end of the long day of hiking. We made sure that everyone and everything was in the cars and we started are long trip back to camp. The car ride was very fun, I mean that we got to have our iPods for just the car rides so most of us fell asleep listening to them. When we got back to camp dinner was just starting so it was perfect timing because everyone who went on the hike was very tired and supper hungry. This was a weekend that I will not soon forget!

Camp by Natalie Morgan (Camper)

This summer, I had the privilege to go to Durango Mountain Camp. It has been an experience of a life time. At first I was scared about coming, and then I realized this was going to help me in my future plans. At this camp, you do not just do busy work, you also do outdoor activities that are very fun. For the activities, you have kayaking, rock climbing, horses, wild Colorado, and scuba. I only did wild Colorado and kayaking. Kayaking was so much fun because you got to go through many rapids. It was like a roller coaster in the water. When I first started, I was not that great at it, then I got the hang of it. Wild Colorado was fun also. You got to pretend like you were stuck out in the wilderness, make shelters, and cook crazy food over a fire.

The main part of the camp is helping with my dyslexia and to get me on track. I know I have done a lot of busy work. I tried to work extra hard so I could achieve everything I needed to before I left this camp. I know this camp was best for my abilities. I want to make sure when I get home, I will be on top of everything work wise.

At this camp, I have become really close to everyone; they are like my family. I have a best friend here; Josie she has made everything better for me and has kept me motivated about everything. Josie was here last year so she knew everything that was going on so she could tell me what was happening next.

I have had so many experiences at this camp. I have done some stuff here that I have never done before. This camp has been a life change for me. I know I have learned so much here, and I have done so many active things. This has been a very fun summer for me and it has given me something to do everyday.

DMC by Pete Kornoff (Head Counselor)

As camp nears the end we have the challenge of cramming 2 weeks worth of fun into just 1. The way we do this is by starting off the week with "Extreme Weekend." One of the coolest offerings we make is an extreme summit attempt. This year we chose to climb a "14er": 14,028 foot tall Redcloud Peak. We started our mission Saturday morning traveling from camp to Silverton and facing progressively rougher off-road conditions to the trail head. Many "Jeepers" stared mouth-agape as we maneuvered the narrow trails in the low-slung, lengthy, 4 wheel drive camp "Soccer Mom" Suburbans. Along the way we stopped at the top of 12,640 foot tall Cinnamon Pass and just for fun some did some extreme snowplay, glissadeing on 40 degree snowfields ,while other campers decided to find their inner polar bear and go swimming under an ice bridge in a frigid tundra lake. From there we made our way to the trail head, and set up camp for the night. The campfire food and entertainment was phenomenal and we almost got to dine on fresh venison steaks when the campers tried to stalk a deer. We went to bed early in anticipation of an extreme(ly) early 5:30am start. Carrying on the extreme theme, it got extremely cold at night and one camper made it more so by sleeping sans-sleeping bag.
Waking up was tough but the hot cocoa got the juices flowing and eventually we started our hike at 8:00. We hiked up a beautiful forest valley, enjoying the changing climate zones until we topped out at the summit among spectacular views of most of the San Juan Range of the Rockies including at least 7 other "14ers" as well as hundreds of other snow-specked peaks, lush valleys, and distant high mesas. Upon gazing at such wonder, one camper exclaimed: "What...there's nothing up here!" After enjoying a well deserved lunch we made our way down the mountain, and all experienced one more extreme; exhaustion. Bumbling and stumbling we got back to the Suburbans and pigged-out, make that replenished calories, on brownies and cold, 2 day old, burritos. On the way home everybody gripped about the aches and pains, some slept rocked to sleep by the violent, jarring sway of the rough trail and road-tuned Suburban suspension. When we made it back to dinner (only 10 minutes late), all the campers recounted the numerous tales and basked in the sense of accomplishment that can only come from pushing oneself to the limit and triumphing.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

DMC by Ellen Steinberg (Tutor)

Oh my, camp is 1 week from over, and I haven't gotten my blog entry.  Wow - well I'd better get on it. 

First, let me say thank you to all of you parents who graciously let me get to know your children.  What a wonderful bunch!  Each is so unique and amazing.  I love listening to their conversations and marvel at their opinions - some more than others and the unique perspectives they bring.  I know that at any given time in the future these will be the kids who change the world in large ways or small.  They will be the ones that think outside the box and come up with solutions that people could not even imagine.  They will be the innovators, the creators, and the problem solvers.  They will know how to meet opposition because they fight every day of their lives to learn to read.

Please understand me, I exaggerate not.  We, as parents of dyslexic children, twist our hand and our hearts.  We cry when no one is looking because we cannot solve this problem for our children.  There is no pill, no operation, no exercise that will magically fix this one.  We watch them struggle and fail, struggle and succeed.  We would do anything to make it easier, but there is not that we can do beyond hope that we have provided the best instruction and support that we can find.  We can listen and we can reassure, but they have to do the work.  And I can tell you they work hard here at camp and rarely complain.  OK... well, they do sometimes complain, but they hang in there.

I have the opportunity to see the growth and the struggles.  Kids leave here changed.  I know my 17 (18 next week) year old son did.  He came to visit this week with another friend  from New Mexico who he met here at camp.  They've stayed in touch, ski in the winter, and met in Albuquerque to come here to Durango to visit camp and me (I think).  They arrived at breakfast early every morning.  The did all of the mountain things that they love, and I think that if Sam did not have to catch a flight they would not have left.  They talked about how much they loved  camp.  They found home, people who cared, challenges to overcome, and  have made friends for life.  They worked their butts off everyday whether in academic, on the mountain, in the river, or in sports. They put out one hundred percent. They learned that they could do it because they did, athletically, academically and socially.  And they will never forget.

In just over a week we will pack up and leave.  I will cry.  My life will be as much changed by this experience as will the kids' lives.  I have made some wonderful new friends in our staff and deepened many other important friendships. I have grown closer to children I met last year and gotten to know the new students.  I have learned and become better at my craft.  I have had fun. My life has been changed by the people I have had the opportunity to spend the last 6 weeks of my life with. Durango Mountain Camp is a gift for all of us.  I look forward to seeing many of you next week and hear stories of your children's great success for year to come.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Simple, Compound, and Complex Sentence Writing by Mac Kelsall (Camper) and Jenna Wright (Tutor)

Simple sentences story

Rabbit was very tired. Rabbit wanted some food. Rabbit’s mom said no more sweets. Rabbit was feeling lonely without his sweets. His mom came in and tucked him in for the night. Rabbit couldn’t sleep after all that sugar. Rabbit stayed up all night playing computer games. Rabbit shed all over the computer. The next day he slept all day.

Compound sentence story + one complex sentence

It was Halloween, and Kit and Pup wanted to celebrate. They spent the whole night trick-or-treating, and they wanted to take a break. Pup hand an idea, but he knew it would involve dad’s dangerous off limits tools. Dad said no, but later that night they went and got a chainsaw. Pup and Kit went to the store, and they bought two pumpkins. Kit said, “I bet I can carve a better pumpkin than you,” but pup said, “No way it’s on.” Kit got out the serious goggles, and he began the carving competition. After 3 long gruesome hours of carving, Dad came down and announced Kit the winner and was proud of him for using the chainsaw properly.

Complex sentences story

Before this photo, they used to have a kid. Even though Billy Bob and Peggy knew it was dangerous, they insisted on having their favorite weapon in their family photos. One day while they were taking their Christmas card, their son was being intolerable so they replaced him with a bird. As the shoot began, Billy Bob realized his fly was down and bent over to zip it up. Since that day, in their house hold it has been quite peaceful. As Billy Bob bent down to zip his fly, he accidentally dropped his harpoon gun and shot their only son in the abdomen. Although Peggy wanted their son to live, she wanted to put him out of his misery more so she took her nail gun and decided to kill, then hang him up on the wall. After the accident at the family photo, Billy Bob and Peggy are now facing criminal charges and may spend up to 50 years in jail.

DMC by Tracy Brothers (Tutor)

Greetings from sunny Durango.

We are into the third week at DMC.  The week where the work gets harder as the kids get more tired and used to the schedule.  The kids are continuing to work very hard to make progress in their learning.

I am always amazed at how hard my campers work to "learn to crack the code of syllables."   It is so exciting to see someone use the tools that they have been taught and make some small breakthrough in reading.  I go home at night exhausted and trying to think of new ways to keep the lessons from getting boring. My ultimate goal is to see someone pick up a book and get excited about reading it!  It is so rewarding for me to hear someone say, after working hard for an hour, "I love learning!" as Steffi said the other day.  It makes it all worth it!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Wednesday, July 13 (late post)

Hi Parents and Friends of Durango Mountain Camp,

Today is hump day – where the camp is half over.  It’s hard to believe that the time goes by so fast.  The second half of the camp always goes by even faster, as both staff and campers realize that there is just so much to do with so little time.  I was sitting in on the Tutor Meeting today, and collectively the tutors would like to keep the program going for another several months to continue the important progress being made.

We had a good week last week as the tutors and campers settled into their routines, and started moving forward from the solid academic foundations that were built the week before.  Katie and her helpers changed up the art as they introduced drumming and percussions to the program.  The weather was perfect, so the outdoor pursuits were again outstanding. 

This past weekend was epic.  After outdoor pursuits on Friday, the entire camp packed up, loaded the vans and headed into the mountains just past Lemon Lake.  Away from the confines of routine and walls, the campers – and some of the staff- go a little crazy with exuberance, but we like that.  Tents were soon up, dinner served, a nice campfire was crackling cheerily, and the camp started to settle down for some campfire tales.  Then the weather moved in.  Big roiling dark clouds, streaked with lightning, and seemingly propelled by thunder, convoyed in from the south.  The campers and staff quickly readjusted the tents making sure that they were well set, and the rain came.  Not just a swift mountain shower, but a full, hard steady mountain downpour.  We tried to best it for an hour, but then wet and bedraggled retreated to the tents for the night.

Dawning revealed perfect blue skies and the refreshing cool mountain smell typical of afterstorm.  The campers and staff were surprisingly energetic, and after breakfast we headed to Vallecito Lake where we had 3 pontoon boats and 2 speedboats waiting.  All the campers had the chance to drive the boats, and jump into the tubes for thrilling high speed rides across the wakes.  Good fun for all.  Back at camp, we had an early dinner, and an extreme game of capture the flag.  But again – alerted by rumbles, the clouds moved in, lightning flashed, and the rain came.  Not just a steady rain, but a crazy rain and whirling winds.  Bolstered by their experiences of the night before, the campers knew that they would be fine and had a grand time, roasting s’mores, and playing ninja around the fire in the rain.

Sunday again dawned clear, and after breakfast and a treasure scavenger hunt, we packed up and headed back to DMC for a late lunch, and afternoon activities. When we got back to camp, the storm of the night before had knocked down several large trees along the driveway.

Along with continuing their academics, most of the campers are involved in their second week of their first activity choice.  The River Runners are now in kayaks – Wild Colorado is onto more extreme activities – the climbers are scaling more difficult pitches and rappels – the bikers are on more advanced trails and tracks.

Camp is good, and the entire camp is dedicated to making every day a great day.

I’ve attached a few photos, and you can view our blogs and photos on these links:

Zane Bilgrav
Durango Mountain Camp

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

DMC by Steffie Schneider (Camper)

Camp is a place for dyslexic kids. I think the counselors are as nice as the tutors are. The girls' cabin has mice. How do I know? We got one on July 10! We were screaming, but we got it out of the cabin. It was adorable. There are many surprises at camp this year.

Wild Colorado by Natalie Morgan (Camper)

Last Friday, we went to X-Rock to go rock climbing. The whole group was very excited
about climbing to the top. At first, I was not interested in climbing at
all.  I've always had a scare of heights.  Knowing climbing to the top of a
rock gave me a fright.
Ian, our instructor, really wanted me to try this rock out.  He said it was
a very easy rock and nothing to be scared about. I was very nervous at first
then I realized I will never do this again, so I should just go for it.
I started the climb.  It was very difficult because I could not find any
places to hold on to.  I eventually made it to the top.  When I got up there
it felt really good.  You could see the road and all the pretty nature from
the top. I felt really confident about myself and wanted to climb it again.

The Camping Trip by Adam Hawkins (Camper)

Last weekend we went camping at Lemon Lake to tube and camp. Most people this was there first time camping. When we got to the camp sight we grabbed out tents and our lugged, and ran to the spots we wanted. After setting up our tents and sleeping bags we ran to Pete who was seating up a fire. After dinner and dessert, we got in our tents and fell asleep after the long day. The next day it was cold so we all huddled around the fire and ate our breakfast. Then we got our swim suits on and jumped in to the van to go to the lake. When we got there every one raced for the best boat. Also, the water was the perfect temperature. Not too hot and not too cold. The tubing was fun. When you got on the tube the driver would do twists and turns until you fell off the tube. When we got to the camp we ate and packed up from the long day. When we got to the camp, we all hung in our cabins until lunch.

Adam Hawkins

Monday, July 11, 2011

DMC by Eran Maor (tutor)

Camp is into its second week and everyone seems to be getting into their groove.  Even though this is my 3rd summer with DMC, its still amazes how much time and effort it takes to plan individualized lessons for all of my tutees.  Nonetheless, I did find enough time to go rafting in the upper Animas River last weekend.  Filled with class IV and several class V rapids, the upper Animas is widely considered to be the most challenging commercially available rafting trip in the lower 48 states. 

My tutees all seem to be adjusting well to camp life and taking advantage of the truly unique opportunities that DMC offers its campers.  In between tutoring sessions and outdoor pursuits, I managed to get the following quotes from my tutees about camp life:

Connor Rabbitt:
“Its been really fun with all the activities, especially scuba.  I like to see people that I saw last year at camp. I love art because I get to use my creativity.  The academics have been challenging, but I am learning.”

Alex Sierant:
“The first week of academics was challenging, but I now got the hang of it.  I really like my cabin and the guys in it.  My best time so far at camp has to be the trip to Ouray and the fireworks at Silverton.”

Spencer Woodard:
“Camp has been a lot of fun.  The food is good and there is always something to do.  I like my new friends and my counselor Paul is teaching me to break dance. The academics are not boring and I am learning something new every day.”

Max McGould:
“DMC is an active place where you can learn new things and make friends.  Getting drenched going down Smelter Rapid has been a blast.  Tutoring has been helpful and fun.  I am looking forward to enjoying the rest of camp.”

Friday, July 8, 2011

Rafting by Elle McGould (Half Day Camper)

DMC by Max McGould (Day Camper)

DMC is a camp where they help dyslexic kids. There are three types of campers half day campers who only stay for academics. Day campers stay till five o’clock but do outdoor pursuits. Overnight campers stay for the month and sleep in cabins they also get dinner and breakfast.  In the morning the camper will have tutoring, study hall, art, and writing. Tottering is one on one with the camper and the tutor will help the camper with problems. Study hall is the time where the camper does work. The study hall is supervised with adults that can help the camper with a questing. After study hall is a twenty minutes of snack and hang out time with friends. Art is a creative period where you can make cardboard boats and paper mache. After art the camper has writing. Writing is a thinking period. At 12:20 the camper has lunch. The camp has a wide variety of food so everyday the camp makes a new lunch. After lunch day campers read for forty minutes 20 silently and 20 orally. And for the overnight camper you either rest or have math. From two to five you have outdoor pursuits. In outdoor pursuits you can do rock climbing, horses, wild Colorado which is a mix of everything, biking, and kayaking. Overnight campers have free time and dinner then they read for and hour and then go to bed. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Durango Mountain Camp by Paul Dusing (Counselor)

It has almost been two weeks of camp already and the kids are getting more settled now and friendly towards one another. The older boys cabin has become more acquainted with everyone and has enjoyed games of risk and chess during their free time. I've had the privilege of being part of the leadership for the program Wild Colorado. In the program kids build shelters to survive in the wilderness, cook over camp fires, and explore caves and the vast expanse of the forest here in Durango. Brian sadly got a flu bug close to the time he ate a steak from the campfire, so I don't think he will be eating steak any time soon. The good news is in scuba he managed to equalize. He was excited to tell me that. On a side note, Brian asked me if he could get his ears pierced. I said, "Sure, if you beat me at a game of chess." So far I've won 8 - 0. He told me he has given up on getting his ears pierced and he does not like chess now. The food here has been great as well. Today we had french toast, melon, and sausages. I'm not a big fan of sausages, but I did have three slices of french toast. Lunch has consisted of a variety of food, from sandwiches to tacos. Dinner has been great too with foods like spaghetti, chicken, rice, beans, soup, and much more. I enjoy eating Mexican foods, so rice, beans and tacos stick out in my memory the most. When Zane took the counselors out to dinner I just had to get a torta for myself. On a random note, the mornings have been great here at DMC too. I've managed to read a lot during the mornings. It is so quiet and peaceful as the sun rises over the hills and the clouds shade the trees. There is so much green here in Durango Colorado compared to southern California. Durango is almost like another world. I am looking forward to rock climbing today in Wild Colorado. It'll be another fun day with the kids.

(Late) Fourth of July Post

Hi Parents and Friends of Durango Mountain Camp,

Happy July 4th!  The campers are all reading with their staff members.  Shortly, we will load the vans and drive over two 10,000 foot mountain passes and end up in Silverton just after sunset. Even though Silverton is a tiny mining town, their fireworks are incredible.  As the rockets explode, the surrounding peaks flicker with illumination and the booms roll around the mountain peaks.  Impressive and unforgettable.

The first week of camp was highly successful.  Since we have very experienced academic and counseling staff, and quite a few returning campers, the camp fell into a smooth routine within just a few days.  The academic mornings hummed along, and the campers returned generally excited about their biking, or horseback riding, or cliff climbing, or canoeing, or river running, or whatever they experienced that day.  Our after dinner “buddy bead” accolade sessions are energetic and embraced by all.  Overall a fine start to our summer’s journey.

Of course there are always some speed bumps.  By mid-week several of the campers and staff were down with a 24 hour stomach bug, which has fortunately disappeared.  Some of the campers miss the comfort and security of home, or the familiarity of their friends.  Some of the campers test the limits to see if the staff will enforce them.  We try to get some of the campers to judge their own successes each day instead of comparing themselves to other achievers.  We try to get some of the campers to be more engaged and interactive instead of passive. Each day has challenges and triumphs, but as individuals, and as a group, the campers are taking small steps to greater achievements.

This weekend was good fun.  On Saturday, the whole camp traversed 3 mountain passes on one of the most spectacular drives in the US as we drove to Ouray.  There we enjoyed the hot springs surrounded by spectacular alpine scenery, before venturing through town for dinner, followed by a trek up to Cascade Falls where half the group got soaked by the blasting spray.  Suitably exhilarated we drove back to the top of Molas pass to watch the sunset, before descending to camp. Sunday was more relaxed as the counselors and campers split into groups for movies, bouldering, and sling-shot paintball.

As the first day of the second week, the campers are now engaged in a new round of activities.  Scuba has the largest group, and the River Running and Wild Colorado programs are popular. 

Next weekend, we’ll camp out near Vallecito Lake, leaving after pursuits on Friday and coming back on Monday.  On Saturday, we’ll jump in several pontoon and speed boats for a day of high speed tubing and messing around in the water.

Hopefully, you are getting emails and calls from your campers so are getting their perspective on the DMC experience.  Campers love getting mail and emails that we distribute at mail call wall, so keep those coming.  Again, you can email me at, and I will print those emails out for your camper.

We have taken lots of photos and will be getting the cameras, photos transferred, selected, and then up on our website over the next few days.  We will also try to get more blogs from the staff and campers to post – so check that out every few days.

That’s it for now – Again happy July 4th and appreciate our incredible country.

Fourth of July Fireworks by Josie Osberg

The fireworks last night were amazing to watch. They were very colorful, and they lit up the whole sky when they would explode into the sky. Also, the fireworks were very loud. They made it so when they went off; the ground would shake, and you would be able to feel it. The best part was to watch them with friends because friends just make everything better. On the way home, most people fell asleep because everyone was so tired from the spectacular night.