This week I’m bringing you my chat with long-time camp director Ariella Rogge of Sanborn Western Camps. Ariella has a TON of amazing ideas for activities we can do to encourage our kids to explore nature. She also shares connection tips families can use to stay close during COVID-19.

About Ariella

Ariella began her career at Sanborn when she was twelve. After five years as a camper and five years as a staff member she continued her work with young people as a high school teacher. She and her family returned to camp in 2001 and she became Program Director at High Trails. In 2013, she became Director. Ariella received a B.A. in English from Colorado College and is a certified secondary English educator and WEMT. She has been active in developing Outcomes-Based Research for the ACA and often presents at national and regional conferences.

Watch our Chat

Links to Instructions & Downloads for Activities we Discussed

NATURE NUGGETS #2: Nature Bingo

NATURE NUGGETS #4: 100 Inch Hike

NATURE NUGGETS #5: Nature Scavenger Hunt

Use the Question Strategy:

Big Ideas for Maintaining & Building Connections

Have virtual dinners or other get-togethers with family or friends.

Write “real” letters to others to brighten their day.

Keep a record of this historical time by writing in journals or recording it in some other creative way.

Find Your Summer Self – Think: Fun, laughter, being outside, engaging with other people, eating good food, having really long, full days packed with all sorts of adventure!


Ariella: How do we capitalize on the spaces we do have?

Ariella: It’s recalibrating how we are connecting with people in interesting ways.

Audrey: This is a time I think that we can all use to sort of reconnect with what’s important and regroup, kind of like a refresh of our lives because we have to, we don’t really have any other options.

Ariella: I think that’s a huge part of this experience is everybody has to have a sense of humor now.

Ariella: Just having the kids kind of dig into specific things they find in the outdoors and you have them dive in at a deeper level, gives them really great observation skills, but it also makes them think differently about the world around them. They’ll see more.

Ariella: We’ve just been talking about camps and value and the fact that, for the camp community this is normally when we’re deep into our preparation for summer and we’re all still doing those things, but yet we also feel this deep, deep, deep desire to provide value for campers and families and our staff, and to be those connection points for people and to be a resource.

Ariella: I think that’s a big part of this for all of us is we have to maintain that sense of curiosity and wonder and fun because it is, as you said, it’s unprecedented and we are going to look back and say, wow, we did that. And it’s only in challenge that we grow and this is definitely a challenging time for all of us. And yet I think it provides us with a lot of opportunities, too.

Audrey: I just think that we’ll want to remember this time because it’s a unique time.

Ariella: You can do so much and you can have the kids write their own scavenger hunts. You could do inside scavenger hunts. You can do outdoor scavenger hunts. You can do up in the air scavenger hunts. It’s really good, truly the sky’s the limit on the scavenger hunt model.


“My Corona” by Chris Mann

Sanborn Western Camps 

People of Sanborn: Ariella 

Book: 101 Nature Activities for Kids by Jane Sanborn and Elizabeth Rundle 

Nature Bingo

100 Inch Hike 

Nature Sculptures 

Andy Goldsworthy Nature Sculptures Inspiration

Nature Scavenger Hunt 

Mental Health Practices for Everyone 

Additional Ideas at the Sanborn Western Camps Blog

Be You – GAC Summer Theme 

One Simple Thing: A List of Little Things

Learning to Enjoy the Little Things

My Favorite

Deep Work: Rules For Focused Success in a Distracted World