Gap Year 2018-2019 - High Desert Center
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Gap Year 2018-2019

CREATE STORIES WORTH TELLING

All of our semesters are awesome. Combine two of them with our “Winternship” for a full year of unforgettable adventure and learning.

  • Making a full Gap Year

    A full year can begin with the Simply Living Semester. We then support you, free-of-charge, in our Winternship program. The year ends with either the Expeditionary Semester or the Watershed Semester. It is also possible to begin with a spring program, take a break in June, and end with the Simply Living Semester.

  • Why do a full Year?

    We believe that both the local lens of the Simply Living Semester and the regional lens of the Watershed Semester or the Expeditionary Semester are necessary for a full understanding of what it means to be educated and inspired about one's impact in the world. Moreover, Gap Year participants often report that their biggest insights and learning come during the second semester, when they begin to apply leadership skills and ways of being that were learned in the first semester.

  • 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

16 participants, ages 17-23–flexible; plus our full staff team

WHERE

Colorado, Mexico, and the South-West

WHEN

July 17, 2018 to May 16 or May 20, 2019

COST

$13,600 with Watershed Semester. Scholarships available.

$7,850 with the Expeditionary Semester.

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

 #1 The Simply Living Semester

#1 The Simply Living Semester

The Simply Living Semester

 

This semester is about deepening one’s relationship with place and community.  It’s about staying close to our home in Paonia, Colorado and creating a rich, meaningful and connected life. It’s about growing your own greens, butchering your own meat, living without cars or gasoline, climbing mountains, building with natural materials, and learning the skills to create community.

 #2 The Winternship

#2 The Winternship

Winternship

Between semesters, from Oct 31, 2018 to the start date of the second semester program you choose, 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 activities such as:

  • 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

#3 WATERSHED OR EXPEDITIONARY SEMESTER

#3 WATERSHED OR EXPEDITIONARY SEMESTER

The Watershed Semester

This is our premier semester overflowing with learning, challenge and adventure. It’s offered through the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab, one of the most long-lasting and respected educational and scientific institutions in the West, in collaboration with the High Desert Center.  You’ll meet and work beside inspiring experts, visit and stay in iconic places, and experience the full, nitty gritty essence of The West. We travel from the high Rockies to Mexico and back, immersing ourselves in food, water, ecological and border issues.  We will also work with journalists to collect and share compelling stories about how local decisions are intertwined with global issues. College credit is available.

The Expeditionary Semester

This semester provides an in depth look at boarder issues as you thru hike the Arizona trail from Mexico to Utah.  70 days, 800 miles, approximately two-million steps, and lifelong friendships forged in sweat, nights under the stars, and perhaps some tears. When we’re not hiking or learning about immigration, we’ll learn how to sing in three part harmony, echoing our voices off the walls of the Grand Canyon.

The Gap Year FAQs

WHAT’S 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.