Colorado, Mexico, Guatemala, and the South-West
Sept 2, 2020 to April 26, 2021
$8,250–Includes travel to and from Guatemala from Phoenix.
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.
November 12-February 14
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 (begins and ends in Phoenix, Arizona).
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 most folks who go 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:
February 2021, the time when we plan on heading down to Guatemala, is still a long ways off, and yet the future feels uncertain because of the global pandemic. If there are still international travel bans, we will change course and offer a modified version of our semester in the south west called the Watershed Semester. This is a very popular program that we have offered many times.
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.
Read more about how the HDC offers the most affordable gap year program out there.
“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.”