An Educational Family Vacation at Shadowcliff , Held in Partnership with the Rocky Mountain Nature Association

A fun filled eco-vacation  designed as an intergenerational opportunity to learn and play took place June 23 – 28 at Shadowcliff. With the backdrop of Rocky Mountain National Park, the town and waters of Grand Lake and the fifty year history of Shadowcliff Lodge, leaders included professional educators, park rangers, naturalists and experienced retreat coordinators who love sharing this beautiful natural setting with others.

Coordinated by Bob Mann and Judith Christy, the Faculty included Naturalist Kevin Cook, Naturalist and Retired Park Ranger Jeff Maugams, Seasonal RMNP Rangers Sam Crane and Harry Canon, JAX fly fisherman Stefan Lee, RMNA Olson Fellow Geoff Elliott and Jane Tollett, Executive Director of Grand County Water Information Network

The week consisted of hikes,  astronomy, birding outings and even a chance for everyone to try their hand at fly fishing.  One particular activity was a visit to a couple of streams inside RMNP where they join the Colorado River. Led by Stefan Lee and Jane Tollett, the group used nets and observation skills to discover  what was in the water and the meaning behind what was or wasn’t  there.  Bob Mann observed of the children, “I’m not sure how much they learned, but they were sure having fun playing in the water in the middle of Rocky Mountain National Park.”

Cindy Heider-Kaliff of Lincoln Nebraska, has been coming to SC since the late 80s when she and some girlfriends discovered it (SC) as a youth hostel.

With plans to enjoy a family vacation in Grand Lake, Cindy found information about the Eco-Family Vacation and along with her 8 year old grandson and 10 year old granddaughter (and, their parents,) headed off to enjoy five days of interactive fun in Nature at SC.

She says it was a true “community” connection experience. The kids played together and the adults hovered, keeping an eye on the kids making sure that someone always knew where they were and that they were getting along. There was even a grandparent component. “So the kids got to connect with us and we got the experience of connecting with them in their total joy of experiencing nature.”

Cindy recalled a hike led by Kevin Cook,  designed to see the natural world at a different level. Kevin showed us  things that we would normally  simply pass by. “He was dissecting Elk scat and telling us the difference between a pine tree and a fir tree, and various  berries and river mites and bugs. And, my heart just opened up because I saw my grandchildren get away from their iPads and their phones and just embrace nature. They just had a ball!”

Cindy really appreciated the faculty and all they brought to the educational experience. “Almost all of the guides that Bob & Judith contracted with were in the 50s and 60s. So for the kids to be able to see older people as experts and older people as “wise guides,” I felt that was a really good outcome of our experience.

“When we got back…my granddaughter said to me one morning, ‘Grandma, listen! Listen to that bird.’ I was so impressed that through all of the things she could be thinking about, that she was still picking up on the bird singing because that was related to what she had learned to do on vacation.”

When was the last time your family brought those kind of memories, and learning, home with them?

Shadowcliff will offer the Eco-Family Vacation again in the Summer of 2014, from June 21-26. To be kept up to date about details, subscribe to our email list or drop us a line at info@shadowcliff.org.

Article contributed by Jay Liebenguth. Thank you Jay!