July 2020 Updates

Aug 2, 2020

Moving Toward a More Inclusive, Diverse, and Equitable Cottonwood Gulch

Campfire in 2019

Cottonwood Gulch is embarking on a strategic planning process that will guide the organization for years to come. As a central part of that process, we are committed to creating a culture that is more inclusive, equitable, and diverse. In preparation for the strategic plan, we have taken a number of steps, both internally and externally. Within the organization, we have incorporated diversity, equity, and inclusion into our decision-making framework, for decisions ranging from “should we launch this particular program?” to “how do we go about hiring a new staff member?” Publicly, we have hosted conversations about diversity in environmental education, and the role of music in creating equitable programming (see our Facebook page for more details). Over the next several months, we will be reaching out to Gulch community members to listen and better understand how diversity, equity, and inclusion should inform all aspects of Cottonwood Gulch’s strategic plan. Stay tuned for more details. In the meantime, if you have questions or comments, you can contact Jordan Stone.

School Program Update

At Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah in 2019: Credit Mason Cummings

In a typical year, we would be gearing up for the next three months of running programs with school partners right now–And obviously, our school programs are obviously on hold in many ways this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  With that being said, we are in close conversation with our partners to see what might be possible and when.  One bright spot in our programming world right now is getting our Students in Wilderness Initiative program ready to go online with virtual “classroom” sessions.  We’re working with a number of schools to deliver the same amazing SIWI curriculum to roughly 330 students across the state in what we hope to be a hybrid online/in-person format this year.  If you’re interested in our school programs, reach out to Matt Baker-White.


Base Camp Projects Update

New building and garden gate with sunflower, July 2020

Even though no trekkers are present at basecamp, there has been no shortage of activity around the property. Much of our time over the past month has been dedicated to the Mess Hall area, with projects focused on the new QM Building and the garden. The garden is green and vibrant with vegetables, native wildflowers and cover crops, improving the soil for years to come. The farm fence is complete with ranch-style gates matching the entrance to basecamp, and rabbit fence to prevent our precious plants from being eaten while we aren’t looking. Outside the fence, we planted native grass seed, which is starting to come up in areas that were disturbed last year during construction. Their roots are helping to stabilize the soil and prevent it from washing away as the monsoons come in for the season. 
As for the building itself, the process of staining that was started last summer is complete and is ready for the wind, rain, and snow that will weather it for the next decades. The floors have been polyurethaned, and the set of 20 bunk beds, enough to sleep 40 trekkers and staff is almost complete and ready to be moved upstairs. 
We are also working with a few volunteers over the next few weeks to install a new latrine at the TT Cabins that were completed last year, and shore up the pool deck, which is in need of a little love. As we wrap up the summer, it certainly feels like we completed our summer goal of making basecamp more functional and beautiful for years to come! If you have questions or comments, you can contact Austin Kessler

Outdoor Educator Course

Staff with the Armadillo (taken pre-COVID)

With a careful eye to COVID safety and a small group, we are excited to be offering an Outdoor Educator Course this fall! It is a perfect opportunity for aspiring outdoor educators, park rangers, trail crew leaders, or other outdoor professionals. No previous wilderness or teaching experience is required. If you have a question or know someone who would be a great fit for this opportunity, email Tori Baker-White.