Gap Year 2019-2020 | High Desert Center
2066
page-template-default,page,page-id-2066,page-parent,qode-quick-links-1.0,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode_grid_1300,qode-content-sidebar-responsive,qode-theme-ver-11.2,qode-theme-bridge,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.2.1,vc_responsive
 

Gap Year 2019-2020

The Good Life isn’t something you find; it’s something you create.

Practice creating it at The High Desert Center.

  • This Gap Year is for:

    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 inspire and challenge you to create those same good feelings and adventures closer to home.

  • Why do a full Year?

    Former students report that the second semester is where the most transformational learning happens. A full year gives us the time to make best friends, to move through the superficial, acknowledge the challenges, find the inspiration, and become who we want to be. A full year also allows us to know a place in depth, to make it home, and to find a way to meaningfully contribute.

  • What we're known for...

    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.

WHO

12-16 participants, ages 17-23; plus our staff team

WHERE

Colorado, Mexico, and the South-West

WHEN

Sept 11, 2019 to May 27, 2020

COST

$7,750 for a year of adventure, travel, room, board and learning.

The High Desert Center Gap Year is comprised of three phases:

qtq80-ngia88

The Community Adventure Semester

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.

IMG_0111

Winternship

Between semesters, from mid November to mid-February, Gap Year participants will execute a self-design 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:

  • catering with a macrobiotic chef
  • walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain
  • blacksmithing
  • working with horses
  • nannying for a band on the road

  • touring dance events
  • visiting deaf communities in Japan
  • studying Spanish at language school in Guadalajara
  • volunteering on organic farms
  • working a job and saving money or being a ski bum.

IMG_2166

The Watershed Semester

We meet up in February, share our wintership adventures and travel south, down the Colorado River to Mexico.  We’ll meet Mexican scientists and lettuce pickers,  immerse ourself in border issues, and see first hand how we are connected to the people of Sonora not only by a river and water issues but also by trade, food, migratory fish and birds, politics and the human experience.  We will then slowly make our way north through iconic western settings and see canyons, ancestral ruins,  and road runners.   We’ll hike and backpack.  We’ll peer over the Grand Canyon and find remote spots where nobody goes to experience the full, nitty gritty essence of The West.

And return to Colorado

After eight weeks on the road,  returning to Paonia will feel like coming home.  For the final six weeks, we up your leadership skills to a new level.  Now instead of following on adventures, you’ll be leading them.  Students will run the program, plan the adventures and the meals, and make it happen.

When do I apply?

Right away.  The first round of Interviews happen in early December of 2018.

 

The Gap Year FAQs

WHAT DOES OUR DAILY SCHEDULE LOOK LIKE?

The answer depends on where we are and what we’re doing.  Most days we’ll be up with the sun, either going to a farm or biking to a mountain trailhead or canning peaches.  In the afternoon there is some individual time while the cooks make dinner.  After dinner there might be a meeting and check-ins followed by dance or a campfire.  At least once a week we’ll have adventures and two days a week will be free days to explore the town, do laundry, and generally take care of yourself.

CAN MY FRIENDS OR FAMILY COME TO VISIT?

Yes, visits are possible.  Normally we ask people to only stay for a day or two and to not sleep in our cabins.  Finally, it is important that visitors get themselves to and from Paonia.  Generally we are too busy during the semester to be picking up visitors at airports or bus stations.

ARE THERE ANY ADDITIONAL COSTS?

The program fee includes all food, housing, transportation and activities while the group is together but does not include your individual transportation to and from Paonia and optional spending money for personal purchases or activities. You will need to provide your own health insurance.  You will also be asked to come with some of your own outdoor equipment, like a sleeping bag, hiking boots and a water filter.  An equipment list will be provided after you are accepted to the program.

WHAT IF I HAVE SPECIAL FOOD NEEDS?

We are  accustomed to meeting the needs of vegetarians and vegans, although you should expect to eat local beans and walnuts rather than avocados and soy cheese.  We can also minimize gluten, although it has proven challenging to serve those who are strongly celiac (we have done it).  If you have special food needs that aren’t easily met with a local, whole foods diet, you might need to supplement with your own snacks.  Please talk with us well in advance about your special needs.

WHAT KIND OF PHYSICAL CHALLENGES SHOULD I BE PREPARED FOR?

 Participants should already be in decent shape by the time they arrive, able to comfortably walk six miles with a pack in two hours as backpacking in steep country will be a significant portion of this semester.

WHAT POLICIES & PROCEDURES WILL I BE ASKED TO AGREE TO IN THIS PROGRAM?

We will ask you to sign an agreement form that includes:

  • No use of drugs (including tobacco and marijuana) and alcohol.
  • Doing your share of cooking and cleaning.
  • Abiding by fire and general safety procedures.
  • Participating fully in program activities unless there is agreement otherwise.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

  • Participants, and their parents if participants are not legal adults, will be asked to sign a release form before the program starts acknowledging the risks associated with this program.  They include the risks inherent to backcountry travel in rough and remote county, traveling in Mexico, working on farms, and travel in vans and cars driven by staff.
  • Participants are often unsupervised by staff during days off and certain adventures.
  • Participants, by consent, may also engage in dumpster diving, skinny dipping, and other unconventional but safe adventures.

WHAT FORMS ARE NEEDED AS PART OF THE APPLICATION?

After the interview, if you have been offered enrollment, we will hold your spot for two weeks and ask you to make a $1000 payment and complete and send in medical history and consent forms as well as an acknowledgement of risk form.  When we receive these, we will formally accept you and give you a spot in the program.