Colorado Mountain College class gets outdoor lesson on camp cleanup
Steamboat Springs — Two groups from the Colorado Mountain College class titled College 101 spent a couple of days on Buffalo Pass in September cleaning up campsites notorious for being thrashed by overnight partiers.
Todd Schuster, the first-year teacher of the course, took about 20 of his students Sept. 25 and 27 as part of a service-learning project implemented into the curriculum.
Guided by Kent Foster, the recreation program manager for the Hahn’s Peak-Bears Ears Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service, Schuster’s students didn’t just clean up empty bottles, cans, glass and debris, but they also got a Buffalo Pass history lesson and a tutorial on local snowfall.
The area is a hot spot for summertime camping, and because the campsites are in national forest and not a national park, Schuster said rules tend to be a little more relaxed.
“It’s a small minority of the population of our students that did that, and it reflects poorly on our majority population,” Schuster said.
College 101 is an entry-level orientation class for first-year CMC students that goes over a variety of topics, from resume building to community service. Projects like the Buffalo Pass cleanup are designed to get students, some of whom are new to Steamboat, more ingrained with the community, Schuster said.
The campsite cleanup opened students’ eyes to the area’s natural beauty and also alerted them to adopt a pack-in, pack-out philosophy for when they camp. For some, the projects provide first-year students like Hunter Hinson an opportunity to possibly explore some career options.
“Honestly, the job that Kent had would be a big interest to me,” Hinson said. “I’d love to help preserve the forest.”
Other service projects on Schuster’s radar include a partnership with his students and Horizons Specialized Services to work with the developmentally disabled. In the past, College 101 students have spent time with folks at Horizons as well as helped clean up trash left behind from the USA Pro Challenge in August.
Schuster also said he plans to make the Buffalo Pass campsite cleanup a regular outing for future College 101 classes.
“I want to kind of create a partnership with that because we have so many students use Buff Pass in the fall for camping and in the winter for backcountry skiing,” Schuster said. “We want to be good neighbors to Buff Pass. The key component to service projects is to be consistent, not a one-time thing.”
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