People who are interested in creating a meaningful and affordable good life full of adventure and freedom. We won't fly you to Costa Rica to zip line through the rain forest, but we will take long bus rides with the locals, eat the same food and navigate the same puddles, and then put our packs and sleeping bags down where the day ends feeling like we are part of it.
Former students report that the second semester is where the most transformational learning happens and the best friends are made. It's when we move through the superficial, acknowledge the challenges, find the inspiration, and become who we want to be while contributing meaningfully to the group.
Our personalized approach results in a sense of family and profound personal growth. We believe in choice. We push the limits with adventure while maintaining a strong record of safety. Our participants find community, connection and a second home in Paonia, and they grow a sense of belonging and connection the the larger world.
Colorado, Mexico, Guatemala, and the South-West
Sept 2, 2020 to April 26, 2021
$8250 for two semesters of adventure. Travel to and from Guatemala from Phoenix included but you are responsible for getting to and from Colorado in the fall and to and from Phoenix in the winter.
September 2 – November 11. This semester is about challenge and new experience in rural Western Colorado. You’ll be climbing mountains, canning peaches and making bread, biking to town, meeting people who inspire you, getting purposefully lost and finding your way home, and living the simple, good life. In the process you will learn the skills of self-sufficiency, community and quality living. You’ll have backpacked in mountains and canyons, made a slew of new friends, and have a list of new practical things that you know how to do.
Between semesters, from mid November to mid-February, Gap Year participants will execute a self-designed initiative. The options are endless. You can arrange independent apprenticeships, travel, work or adventures either near your home, in Paonia or elsewhere. During the fall semester we will support you to develop a meaningful project, and we provide weekly support during this phase of the year. Previous Gap Year students have arranged:
February 15-April 26. We’ll meet up in mid February in Arizona to begin our adventures south to Guatemala. We will camp together in the desert to reconnect and share our Winternship stories. Next we head south. Guatemala is a place for adventurous visitors and even they almost all fly there on a luxurious airplane. Not us. We’re going overland, on public transit, through the entirety of Mexico. Our goal is to have more real experiences and also spew less carbon. Once we arrive in Guatemala we will dive into experiencing the place. We begin in a large group to orient but then split up into smaller groups to more fully experience the place. You’ll choose from a slew of options while we offer ground support and semi-regular meet-ups. Examples of some adventures you might choose to plan include:
After saying our goodbyes in Arizona, Dev and Marian will drive back to Colorado. Participants who demonstrated a passion for work projects during the year and who love gardening and building will be welcome to join them for six weeks. During this time we will continue to share in community meals and tackle some fun projects that support the continuous growth of the HDC. We will ask for $50/week to cover food costs during this time.
When we ask our students why they chose us, many say words like “community,” “philosophy” or “strong recommendations.” Another thing we commonly hear is that our programs are relatively affordable.
“My time with the High Desert Center was one of the most pivotal and inspiring experiences that I have ever had. I was in constant awe of the community I had been lucky enough to fall into the loving arms of, the epic places in which we adventured, and the new things that I learned daily. The High Desert Center bestows the gifts of deep compassion and curiosity upon their students. I’m left with their gifts of compassion and curiosity, relationships that will last me a lifetime, and an adventure that will be difficult to forget.”
“At the High Desert Center, I felt for the first time in my life that I had a place and a purpose entirely to myself. The staff engaged each participant earnestly, asking participants to discover what we truly cared about and to explore the numerous options presented by our ambitions. Each day felt like an experience and adventure to itself, and also preparation for the great adventure of life. In short, I cannot recommend this gap year highly enough to any young adult in the process of discovering fulfillment.”