THE SIMPLY LIVING GAP SEMESTER

Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to find.

DISCOVER WHAT IT TAKES FOR YOU TO THRIVE

A gap semester full of adventures, community, & sustainable living

A group of young people pose for a gap year program photo, looking hip and silly
WHO

14-18 participants, ages 17-23; plus our staff team. 1 spot available.

Lake Atilan and the docks in front of the volcano San Pedro in Giatemala
WHERE

Colorado & travel options in the winter to Thailand, Australia, Spain & more

Four young people with backpacks smile in front of a mountain
WHEN

Sept 1 to Nov 10, 2021 & the option to take part in one of our winter adventures

young man smiling on the side of the road with his thumb up, hitchhiking
COST

$6,500--does not include optional winter travel expenses

group of young people with backpacks on smiling in nature

Community Living

Do you crave the feeling of belonging and connection? Does growing your self awareness and your ability to navigate sticky situations sound exciting and a bit scary? You will create a tight-knit, magical community here. Together you will live in cabins, cook your meals from scratch, take on ambitious projects as teams, and learn about the practices and principles that create a deep and rich community. When things get challenging, you can count on someone checking in with you, listening to you, and asking questions that broaden your perspective. Over the semester you might find yourself surprised how close you feel to a group of people who were strangers only months before.

Adventuring

Adventure is a frame of mind.  It can happen anywhere and anytime when you say “yes!”    You can expect to climb mountains, explore canyons, or purposefully get lost without a sleeping bag only to spend a night around a fire-eating cactus fruit.  You can also expect to be surprised and find adventure in unexpected places, like the kitchen or under a bridge.  With adventure comes not only learning about things like primitive skills, orienteering, birding, and the night sky, but also the chance to practice designing and leading new adventure.  Most importantly, there comes the adventure mindset, and with that, even when you’re not in the mountains, the everyday challenges of work and home life can feel like adventurous fun.

Sustainability

One of our biggest modern-day challenges is living in a way that feels like a solution rather than part of the problem.  To us that means minimizing our negative impact while growing our resilience and adaptability and willingness to make courageous choices.  At the High Desert Center you will grow greens and make bread; build with recycled and natural materials; conserve water by using a composting toilet; and minimize fossil fuels use by taking showers with solar heated water.  You will also meet and learn from people who are happily living the simple life. And you will practice the process wherein all great things begin–a small group of people choosing something big that matters and then making it happen.

Simply living feels a lot better when you’re thriving and at the HDC you will put your focus there.  Sometimes thriving while living simply is easy, like when you’re sitting with your friends around a campfire under the stars eating pizzas you just made on a rock.  Other times it’s harder, like when you’re packing up your tent in the rain or when you find yourself washing other people’s dishes. You don’t get to thriving by avoiding what’s hard or uncomfortable.  You don’t get there by doing what you “should”.  You get there by finding that spark that lies in each of us and courageously saying “yes.”   Community, adventures and sustainable living all follow.

Extend Your Gap Semester with One of Our Overseas Winter Adventures

At the end of the Simply Living Semester many of our students go on to do a Winternship Adventure. We help you arrange independent apprenticeships, travel, work or adventure either near your home, in Paonia or abroad.  While you're off on your adventures we get together with our group on the phone to check in, get support, and share stories. The staff is also available to support you with anything that comes up during this time.

 

We’ve found that participants who want to go abroad often desire some structure and support to get the most of their experiences. Here are some partners we work with. Note that these have additional costs associated with them.

SPAIN

Gap Year student in Spain

Travel to the coast south of Valencia to live with a host family, volunteer at the local democratic school, and learn about artesian bread making from a local baker. Improve your Spanish, build relationships, soak up the culture, and don’t forget to eat the paella. This adventure is best suited for someone with a basic foundation in Spanish.

COST: $125/WEEK WITH A THREE WEEK MINIMUM. 2 PARTICIPANTS MAXIMUM

THAILAND

young woman pets an elephant

Experience Thailand while living in a community center focused on building the skills of self-reliance. You will learn how to save seeds, garden, and practice natural building. Take advantage of getting to know the indigenous cultures of the Karen, Hmong, Lisu, and Lahu people and experience life from the vantage point of a vastly different worldview.

COST: $80/WEEK WITH A THREE WEEK MINIMUM. 3 PARTICIPANTS MAXIMUM.

AUSTRALIA

group of smiling people form a human pyramid on the beach

Enjoy the fun of a family homestay in a wonderful old seaside home nestled among the urban Henley Beach. With good public transport and cycling path access, the city of Adelaide is in full summer swing for adventures and exploring.  Learn about permaculture, the indigenous Kaurna culture, and seaside lifestyle in Australia.
COST: $125/WEEK WITH A THREE WEEK MINIMUM. 2 PARTICIPANTS MAXIMUM

COLORADO

August on a hike at the Gunnison Gorge

Continue your stay in Colorado for a month long practicum in wellness. Explore different health modalities, each with accompanying projects and activities. Take part in a guided herbalism study, actively learning about plants and their uses. You will live the winter homesteading lifestyle by chopping wood, caring for animals, and working in the greenhouse.

COST: $125/WEEK WITH A THREE WEEK MINIMUM. 5 PARTICIPANTS MAXIMUM.

WHAT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT THEIR GAP YEAR

Young man smiling wearing floral shirt outdoors in the Colorado desert

KIERAN SMITH

Grass Valley, CA

If you are looking for a Gap Year program where you expect the unexpected, this is it. Be prepared for something that will change you in ways you never anticipated. This program is an amazing combination of outdoor leadership skills, emotional growth, and community building, which makes for an amazing Gap Year that could never be repeated.

young woman smiling with her hand in the air standing on a hole in the snow

SOPHIA WAHANIK

Rohnert Park, CA

During this gap year, I have grown into myself. I first joined the High Desert Center (HDC) feeling unsure about the future and nervous about my responsibilities in it. Throughout this year I have become grounded in my sense of self and excited to go out into the world. I attribute this to the spaciousness of the program.

WHEN DO I APPLY?

Today! We are currently accepting applications.

Have more questions like:

Where will you sleep? What will you eat? What will each day look like?