THE
WINTERNSHIP

The gap year that encourages you to make the most of your independence. Get out there and do something.

Travel independently or with a group of friends, volunteer, plan an adventure, get a job.

The Winternship

Between semesters, from mid-November to mid-February, Gap Year participants execute a self-designed initiative or link up with one of our Winternship partners abroad. The options are endless. You can arrange apprenticeships, travel, work, or adventure either near your home, in Paonia, or across the ocean. During the fall semester, we will support you to develop a meaningful project, and we provide weekly support during this phase of the year.

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Smiling gap year student, August

HDC Winternship Partners

We’ve found that some participants want to go abroad and 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

Gap year student in Thailand planting seeds

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

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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

Gap year students in the garden

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.

Self-Designed Winternships:

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Gap year student chopping wood in the snow
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Gap Year student backpacking, Timmy

Previous Gap Year students have arranged:

  • catering with a macrobiotic chef
  • walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain
  • blacksmithing
  • studying Spanish at language school abroad
  • working with horses
  • nannying for a band on the road
  • working for a state senator
  • volunteering on organic farms
  • working a job and saving money
  • touring dance events
  • visiting deaf communities in Japan
  • working for a ski resort

WHAT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT THEIR GAP YEAR

Smiling gap year student, August

AUGUST BRAATEN

Middleton, WI

The High Desert Center has been one of the greatest surprises of my life. I went into it knowing very little but came out feeling good about community, life skills, and myself. Here I pushed myself and challenged myself day to day. I also found that my sense of community pushed me in many areas as well. I made friends with people from around the US and created deep meaningful connections with them in just a matter of a few weeks.

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ANNA BUTCHER

Stamford, VT

The program’s combination of adventure, challenge, and support made for an amazing year with strong friendships and connections. The group bonded over everything from hiking in the back country to cooking food in the outdoor kitchen. I wouldn’t have traded this experience for any other. The directors, Dev and Marian, are both incredibly intelligent, caring and skillful leaders. They skillfully create open, safe spaces to learn and grow.

WHEN DO I APPLY?

Today! We are currently accepting applications.