High Trails Teaches Air Academy Students Valuable Skills


Nate Riggs poses for a photo alongside other counselors from across District 20 for the 2018 High Trails trip. Photo taken by senior, Nate Riggs.

Every year, middle school students in District 20 have the opportunity to go on an educational camping trip with their friends through the High Trails program. For one week, they get to do educational activities that span throughout all subjects while going out into the wilderness for a fun experience.

The High Trails program is based in Florissant, Colorado and has been operating since 1948. There is a combination of full-time staff members that help teach the lessons and a handful of high school students that are volunteer counselors for the cabins.

High school students, including those at Air Academy, can volunteer for High Trails as counselors. Not only is it a fun way to build leadership skills, but the week-long trip also looks good on any resume, because volunteers get seventy-seven hours of community service. 

“I moved to Colorado Springs when I was in high school and I got to participate in High Trails as a counselor,” said English teacher and the leader of High Trails at AAHS Elise Hatfield.

Hatfield believes that it is great for high school students to become High Trails counselors because it gives students an opportunity to take part in leadership activities.

At Air Academy High School, about sixty students a year travel to the campsite to partake in the program.

AAHS senior Nate Riggs has been attending High Trails since he was a sophomore. He started it after a friend recommended it to him.

“I wasn’t sure if I was cut out for it, but she told me that I would do fine. She made me promise that I would go pick up an application and I did. I went the first time and I absolutely loved it! After that there was no question that I would do it again,” said Riggs.

High Trails has now become a big part of his life and he has returned annually since his sophomore year.

As of now, Riggs is actively talking to the administration to make it easier for Air Academy students to go on the High Trails trip. He feels like many students don’t go because they will fall behind in their schoolwork and that it isn’t worth it because of it.

His goal is to make it so that the counselors have to fill out a booklet about what they do on their trip and when they get back and the booklet is complete, they will be exempt from all the work that they missed. This is because at High Trails, counselors learn all the things that the middle school students do, but also learn things like time management and leadership skills.

High Trails is an important program that helps both the middle school students who are eager to learn about their core subjects, but also the high school counselors who learn valuable life lessons that will help them for the rest of their lives.

Students who want further information on applications to High Trails can contact Elise Hatfield in room 513.