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Bombay Sloppy Joes for your Super Bowl Party

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I was looking for another way to use up a few of my homemade sandwich buns and thought they might hold up nicely with some sloppy joe filling. Then, when I borrowed my friend Katie’s Food Network Magazine, I saw a recipe for Bombay Sloppy Joes and my decision was made. These were so good, even better than we expected. Indeed, the homemade buns held up wonderfully despite the wet, messy filling.

These were definitely a little tedious to make (thank you Ryan for your assistance!), which is what had me thinking negative thoughts. I was pretty convinced that they wouldn’t be worth the effort, but my mind was changed after my first bite. These were wonderfully tangy and the pistachios and raisins added a unique element to the mixture. This was one meal I was thrilled to have leftovers of! When you’re looking for a chance from regular ‘ol sloppy joes and you don’t mind spending a little time chopping in the kitchen, give these a go!

 

Bombay Sloppy Joes
adapted from Food Network Magazine, October 2010

Ingredients:
For the sauce-
-2 tbsp vegetable oil
-1 tbsp minced peeled ginger
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
-1 tsp garam masala
-1/2 tsp paprika
-1 15 oz. can tomato sauce

For the sloppy joes-
-3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
-1/4 cup raisins
-1/4 cup shelled pistachios
-1/2 tsp cumin
-1 large onion, finely diced
-1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
-1 jalapeno pepper
-kosher salt
-1 lb ground turkey
-1/2 tsp honey
-1/4 cup half and half
-small handful fresh cilantro
-4 buns

Directions:
1. To make the sauce, heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add ginger, garlic, and jalapeno pepper. Cook until ginger and garlic brown a little (approximately 1 minute). Add the garam masala and paprika and cook for 30 seconds. Add tomato sauce and 1 cup of water, stirring and bringing to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
2. In a separate skillet, heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil. Add raisins and pistachios and cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally, until raisins plump and pistachios are slightly toasted. Remove from skillet and set aside.
3. Return skillet heat to medium and add remaining 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil. Add cumin, onion, and bell pepper. Cook until softened (approximately 5 minutes). Add the jalapeno and continue to cook, seasoning with salt. Add the turkey to the skillet, breaking up lumps and cooking until opaque (approximately 5 minutes).
4. Add the prepared sauce to the turkey mixture. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until mixture thickens slightly (approximately 10 minutes).
5. Remove the whole jalapeno pepper. Add in the honey, half and half, raisins, and pistachios. Just before serving, stir in cilantro. Toast buns and fill with sloppy joe mixture. Enjoy making a mess while you eat! 😉

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Special Children…Special Cheer Squad!

Quick: What comes to mind when you think of high school cheerleaders? The catfighting smack-talkers in “Bring It On?” Sue Sylvester’s conniving Cheerios on “Glee?” That awful Pamela chick who kept trying to steal Michael J. Fox away from Boof in “Teen Wolf?”

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It’s time to start seeing cheerleaders differently.

When she was just 15 years old, Sarah Cronk helped her cheer team in Bettendorf, Iowa, defy age-old stereotypes by creating a squad that welcomed students with disabilities. The success of that team inspired her to found The Sparkle Effect, a nonprofit that boasts nearly 100 inclusive cheer teams at schools across the country.

“A lot of people overlook that cheerleading is a great opportunity for girls to become leaders,” Cronk said. “At our high school, that cheerleading uniform meant a lot more than looking cute and doing a couple dance moves. It really meant being an ambassador for our school, and I hope The Sparkle Effect brings that attitude to the other communities that it’s touched.”

Courtesy Sarah Cronk/The Sparkle Effect

Korryn Taghon, left, and Caitlin Ghere, right, were a part of Sarah Cronk’s original Sparkles team. They are still cheering with the program today.

Cronk’s older brother, Charlie, is disabled, and she watched him struggle to fit in when they were in high school. When the captain of the swim team invited Charlie to join his friends for lunch, it inspired others to include him more as well. Cronk saw what that act of kindness did for her brother, and she wanted to bring the same spirit of acceptance to others.

She asked her cheerleading coach if the Pleasant Valley High team might be able to create a side squad comprised of able-bodied and disabled students, the Spartan Sparkles, to cheer during certain games and events. Her teammates jumped on board and, using a one-to-one ratio of mentor to Sparkle, they practiced and performed, becoming the first inclusive cheerleading squad in the country.

“A lot of these kids were pretty invisible before this program,” she said. “And a lot of that was just because people didn’t know what to say or what to do — as if communicating with them was worlds different from communicating with anybody else. So maybe there’s a girl with disabilities in your science class and you see her sitting alone every day but you don’t really know anything about her, you don’t really know what you would say. Then you see her cheering in a game on Friday and she’s doing a great job. You can say ‘Hey, you did a great job at that game,’ and she feels comfortable and it boosts her confidence and you’ve sort of bridged that gap.

“When you see the Sparkles cheer, it really shines such a big spotlight on what they can do as opposed to what they can’t. It kind of makes people take a second look and realize we’re really a lot more alike than we think we are.”

Cronk says adults can try to help, but it’s students who have the unique power to affect classmates simply by including them. And the Sparkles have not only demonstrated the power of peer acceptance, they’ve also helped adults see high school students differently.

“We’ve changed people’s opinion of young people in general,” she said. “When you see us perform together as a team with the Sparkles and see how the student body reacts and how supportive and excited they are, you realize that they’re as much a part of the success as we are. People in the communities see how the students embrace these kids and how willing they are to include them outside of the games and practices. It really changes the culture of these high schools for everybody, not just the cheer teams.”

Changing lives

The tremendous response the Spartan Sparkles received inspired Cronk to bring the idea to other schools and areas. At first she had trouble generating interest, adding just two teams the first year. Frustrated by budget cuts and limited resources, she learned the ins and outs of nonprofits and mastered the art of fundraising.

“Being able to financially support our teams was incredibly important,” Cronk said. “We ended up creating a grant program, and once we could give our teams funds and new uniforms, we started increasing our numbers.”

Word has gotten out about The Sparkle Effect, and Cronk has found herself on a whirlwind tour of media appearances and awards banquets. She’s made multiple appearances on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” has been profiled in magazines like People and Parade and has won countless awards, including the $100,000 grand prize at the 2011 Do Something Awards.

When you’re yelling for your school loud and proud, it just brings out all kinds of stuff.
Sarah Cronk, founder of The Sparkle Effect

The acclaim is nice, and the money to continue funding more squads is definitely useful, but the real reward for Cronk is hearing about all the lives that have been changed.

“There was a girl on one team, we got an email from her dad,” Cronk said. “She’d been on the team for a couple weeks, so he went to a practice to check it out. He had to excuse himself because he was getting emotional. In the 10 minutes that he’d been at that practice he heard his daughter say more than in the last 10 years at home. She was that comfortable and that happy.

“A lot of these kids are so shy, or have speech impediments, or don’t feel they have anything that important to say until these teams give them a voice. When you’re yelling for your school loud and proud, it just brings out all kinds of stuff.”

Another student, one of the original Sparkles on Cronk’s team, found not only her voice, but also her identity.

“Alison [Atkins] would come to practice every day in a different wig,” Cronk said. “A Hannah Montana wig or a wig from a ‘High School Musical’ character. We had to call her by that character or she’d throw a fit. Her mom said to just go with it, that she was just trying to get comfortable. So we went with it, and then a couple weeks in she came in without a wig and said ‘Today I’m just gonna be Alison.’ She was just ready to be herself.”

Cronk is now a student at Whitman College in Washington state, but she still serves as the president and creative director of The Sparkle Effect. With some help from two friends, Lauren Delzell and Allison Good, Cronk continues to oversee the creation of new Sparkle squads all over the country, including their first two collegiate programs, at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and Penn State. Delzell is working to bring The Sparkle Effect to her school, the University of Iowa.

“I really try to get the group involved in outside activities or community-service projects,” said Patti Mitch, coach of the cheer and stunt team at UW-Platteville. “I have some special-needs nephews, so I’m very aware of the limitations of programs available for individuals with special needs. When [freshman Shelby Swanson, a former Pleasant Valley student] came to me with the idea of getting our team involved in The Sparkle Effect, I loved it.”

The cheerleaders loved it, too, so much so that each of the Pioneer Sparkles has two mentors, instead of just one. Ranging in age from 11-21, the Pioneer Sparkles come from three neighboring states for practices and performances.

Success stories

Mitch says it’s been incredible to see how the members of The Sparkle Team have grown from the experience.

“We have one young lady, Lakyn [Merfeld], she is 18 years old,” Mitch said. “When she brought the flier for The Sparkle Effect home, her mother emailed me immediately. She said that this was better than winning the lottery; it was an answer to their prayers. Lakyn has always wanted to be a cheerleader and her high school basically told her they didn’t want her. They wouldn’t even make her an honorary cheerleader. And this young lady was just devastated.

“When this opportunity came, they were the first ones to sign up. And when Lakyn first put on the uniform she came out and said ‘I am rocking this uniform.'”

She’s been rocking the routines ever since, including the stunts.

“I was a little nervous at first,” she said. “But I realized I got used to it.”

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Courtesy Patti Mitch

Sparkle squads are popping up all over the country, and Sarah Cronk says one of her goals is to take the idea beyond the U.S. borders.

Merfeld’s favorite sport to cheer for is football; she likes to be close to the action, encouraging the players. As for the fans cheering her on, she loves the attention.

“I don’t mind that at all,” she said. “Yeah, totally!”

Especially since she gets to wear a snazzy blue-and-orange Pioneer Sparkles uniform.

When asked if she looks “pretty good” in it, her answer was honest.

“No, pretty great,” she said.

Merfeld is just one of the Sparkles who lights up in front of a crowd. UW-Platteville’s team includes several students who are wheelchair-bound, and Mitch says 13-year-old Devin Adams has really come out of his shell since he joined the team.

“Devin was born at 25 weeks,” Mitch said. “Cognitively, as far as we know, he knows what’s going on but he can’t communicate it. His muscles are very rigid, so it’s not like he can point to a picture board. He says about 25 words and when he responds, he responds accurately. His mom wasn’t sure how much he was going to be able to participate or how much he’d really enjoy it, but he has a blast!

“He used to be very camera-shy; whenever his mom would pull out the camera he would drop his head and stuff. Now he sees me pull out the camera, his head goes up and he’s got this huge smile on his face! He’s a ladies’ man — he can get a hug out of any girl just by giving them a smile.”

It’s not just the mentors, the Sparkles and their families who benefit from the experience, though. Mitch said the impact is felt by everyone who watches them.

“One man, every time he sees me he says the same thing, ‘Are the Sparkles here today?’ And he always says something to the effect of ‘I never thought someone in a wheelchair could do something like that.’

“People watching are starting to realize that just because someone may have physical or cognitive challenges, that doesn’t mean they’re limited in what they can do. We just need to be a little more creative in how we include them. These young men and women have probably heard ‘no’ so much in their lives. We are giving an opportunity for their parents and for everyone else to say ‘Yes, you can. Join us.'”

Goals to grow

To mark their 90th team, The Sparkle Effect is introducing a scholarship that will be awarded to one of their squad members with disabilities or to one of their peer mentors.

Soon enough, Cronk will have to think of a way to celebrate the century mark.

She’s working to get a team in every state, expand to other countries and get more colleges involved. Eventually, she hopes Sparkle squads will be the norm, not the exception.

“Ultimately we want inclusion to be as much a part of cheerleading, and high school sports in general, as it can be,” she said. “I really hope eventually it doesn’t call for attention — it’s just what everybody does and how everybody feels about inclusion and people with disabilities.”

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Four Christmas Candles

The Four Candles burned slowly.
Their ambiance was so soft you could hear them speak…

The first candle said, “I Am Peace, but these days, nobody wants to keep me lit.”
Then Peace’s flame slowly diminished and went out completely.

The second candle said, “I Am Faith, but these days, I am no longer indispensable.”
Then Faith’s flame slowly diminished and went out completely.

Sadly the third candle spoke, “I Am Love and I haven’t the strength to stay lit any longer.”
“People put me aside and don’t understand my importance.

They even forget to love those who are nearest to them.”
And waiting no longer, Love went out completely.

Suddenly…

A child entered the room and saw the three candles no longer burning.
The child began to cry,

“Why are you not burning?  You are supposed to stay lit until the end.”

Then the Fourth Candle spoke gently to the little boy,

“Don’t be afraid, for I Am Hope, and while I still burn,

we can re-light the other candles.”

With shining eyes, the child took the Candle of Hope

and lit the other three candles.

Never let the Flame of Hope go out.

With Hope in your life, no matter how bad things may be,

Peace, Faith and Love may shine brightly once again.

Make your own Holiday Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

pb cup

Yes, the Holidays are approaching.

Yes, you love Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups.

Now you can make the best Holiday Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups that your family will ever eat right there in the comfort of your own kitchen, and you can do it in no time at all.

The worst (best) part about this recipe is that it is so easy. You could make these everyday, which of course is a terrible idea, but it is simple. The ingredient list is short and the longest part of the process is waiting for the finished product to set in the refrigerator. These could be a dangerous treat in our house. Rules and limits will have to be created and enforced so that we aren’t “treating” ourselves every week.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

yields 12 cups

What You Need:

3 cups chocolate*

1 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup graham crackers, crushed

1 teaspoon sea salt

*I used dark chocolate chips, but you could use whatever type of chocolate you like — semi-sweet, milk chocolate or bittersweet.

To Make:

Place 12 paper liners in a muffin pan. Set aside.

Melt 1 1/2 cups of the chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave. Then use the back of a spoon to smooth a layer of melted chocolate onto the bottoms and sides of the paper liners. Be generous. Set the chocolate bowl aside, you will use it again later. Refrigerate the muffin pan for 20 minutes while you make the peanut butter filling.

Meanwhile in a mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, crushed graham crackers, powdered sugar, and salt. Stir until well combined. The peanut butter mixture should be smooth.

Remove the muffin pan from the refrigerator. Place one to two spoonfuls of the peanut butter mixture in each liner. Distribute equally among the 12 cups. Tap the peanut butter mixture down in each cup so it is smooth on top and fills the bottom of the liner completely.

Now melt the remaining 1 1/2 cups of chocolate either in your double boiler or the microwave.  Cover the peanut butter mixture with the warm chocolate. Be generous. The peanut butter should not longer be visible. Smooth the tops of each cup or swirl as desired for aesthetics.

Place the muffin pan back in the refrigerator. In approximately one hour your cups should be set and ready to eat. Enjoy!

Everything’s Better with Chocolate Yes… indulge yourself…

 

chocolate-cravings

“And five children sat at breakfast and the morning music was playing and they were eating chocolate cake and singing songs to me. ‘Dad is great. Give us the chocolate cake!'” —Bill Cosby

The good stuff. Plain. Milk. Dark. White. Melted. Hot. Chilled. Belgian. Swiss. In small colored spheres. In portable kisses. In bars. In cups. In cake. In cupcakes. In muffins. In ice cream. In donuts. In syrup. In pudding. In spread. In chocolate. With peanut butter. With nuts. With caramel. With raspberries. With blueberries. With strawberries. With cherries. With oranges. With lemons. With bananas. With vanilla. With coffee. With toffee. With mint. With croissants. With churros. With nachos. With chilli. With chicken. With pretzels. With cookies. With chocolate.

With bacon. Deep-fried. Baked. Good days, bad days, the apocalypse, zombie apocalypse, PMS, pregnancy (pickles optional), Birthdays, Weddings, Valentines, Easter, Halloween, Christmas, New Year. They give you endorphins and antioxidants for the body.

 

Deborah Cody & Pueblo South H.S. Foreign Language Win an iPad Mini

Deb Cody

Last Spring toward the end of the 2013 school year, S’Cool Services Fundraising offered to hold a drawing for one fortunate person to win a free iPad or iPad Mini for the benefit of their school or organization. Participants came from a pool of teachers and sponsors whose school or organization signed up for a Fall fundraiser by April 30, 2013.

The opportunity to participate and win was sent out to the teacher / sponsors on our S’Cool Services Fundraising email list through a series of scheduled email messages.

After compiling all the names of the nearly 40 eligible teacher / sponsors, Johnny Dasher the owner of S’Cool Services Fundraising selected one name by drawing. Ms. Deborah Cody of the Pueblo South High School Foreign Language Department was the winner.

Upon hearing of the good fortune of the Pueblo South High School Foreign Language Department, Ms. Cody selected an iPad Mini  which was presented to her by Joel Zarr of S’Cool Services Fundraising.

We are pretty sure Ms. Cody’s response upon receiving the iPad Mini was something like, “Woo-Hoo!”

Spreading  joy and giving good things to great schools and organizations is something we love to do at S’Cool Services Fundraising.

During the Fall of 2013 S’Cool Services Fundraising will make a new and different offer to the teachers / sponsors on our email list.  We sincerely hope you will participate and win!

Web site:  www.scoolservices.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/SCool-Services-Fundraising/294105182941

Ten Tips for Your Child’s Success in School

ab

It should come as no surprise that success — or failure — at school starts at home. Studies have linked poor academic performance to factors such as a lack of sleep, poor nutrition, obesity, and a lack of parental support.

The good news is that those same studies also show higher test scores for students who live in homes where healthy habits, regular routines, and good communication exist.  How can you ensure your child heads off to school this fall with the best possible foundation? Follow these 10 tips and watch your child thrive.

Enforce Healthy Habits

You can’t perform well when you don’t feel good. To help your child have the best chance at doing well in school, make sure she follows healthy habits at home. Choose a bedtime that will give your child plenty of sleep, and provide a healthy breakfast each morning. Encourage exercise, and limit the amount of time she spends watching TV, playing video games, listening to music, or using the computer.

Stick to a Routine

Most kids thrive on structure and will respond well to routines that help them organize their days. In our house, for example, my son gets dressed, makes his bed, and eats breakfast while I make his lunch and pack his school bag with completed homework and forms. When he gets home in the afternoon, I serve him a snack and he does his homework while I prepare dinner. Your routines may differ, but the key is to make it the same every day so your child knows what to expect.

Create a “Launch Pad”

Veteran parents know it’s important to have a single place to put backpacks, jackets, shoes, lunchboxes, and school projects each day. Some call it a “launch pad,” while others call it a “staging area.” Our area is a hook by the back door.

Whatever you call it, find a place where your child can keep the items he needs for school each day and keep him organized. Then you’ll know right where to find everything during the morning rush.

Designate a Space

At school your child has a desk or table where she works. There is plenty of light, lots of supplies, and enough room to work. Why not provide her with the same type of environment for homework? A designated homework space often makes it easier and more fun for children to complete assignments at home. A desk is great, but a basket of supplies and a stretch of kitchen counter work just as well.

Read, Again and Again

It is often said that children spend the first several years learning to read, and the rest of the lives reading to learn. The written word is a gateway to all kinds of learning, and the more you read to your child, the better chance he has of becoming a proficient and eager reader.

Try to sit down with your child to read a little bit every day, give him plenty of opportunities to read out loud to you, as well, and above all have fun. While the importance of reading with your child cannot be stressed enough, it should not be the cause of stress.

Learn Always

Your child may be past the preschool years, but home education is still a critical part of his overall learning experience. “Some of the attitude recently is that it’s up to the schools and teachers to figure it all out, to make sure children are learning and healthy and safe,” says Barbara Frankowski, M.D., MPH, FAAP, and member of the AAP Council on School Health. “There’s only so much teachers can do. Parents have to fill in with good support at home.”

Look for ways to teach your child throughout the day. For example, cooking combines elements of math and science. Use the time when you make dinner as an opportunity to read and follow directions, to discuss fractions, to make hypotheses (“What will happen when I beat the egg whites?”), and to examine results.

Take the Lead

Children learn by example. Let your kids “catch” you reading. Take time to learn a new skill and discuss the experience with them. Sit down and pay bills or do other “homework” while your kids do their schoolwork.

If you display a strong work ethic and continually seek out learning opportunities for yourself, your kids will begin to model that same behavior in their own lives.

Talk Often

Do you know how your child feels about her classroom, her teacher, and her classmates? If not, ask her. Talk with her about what she likes and doesn’t like at school. Give her a chance to express her anxieties, excitements, or disappointments about each day, and continue to support and encourage her by praising her achievements and efforts.

Show Interest

Don’t limit your support to your child; extend it to her teachers as well. Meet the teachers and stay in regular contact by phone or e-mail so that you can discuss any concerns as they arise. Not only will it pave the way for you to ask questions, but it will also make the teachers more comfortable with calling you if they have concerns about your child.

Expect Success

Perhaps the most important way you can support your child’s efforts at school is to expect him to succeed. That doesn’t mean that you demand he be the best student or the best athlete or the best artist. Rather, let him know that you expect him to do “his best” so that he’ll be proud of what he can accomplish.

If you make that expectation clear and provide a home environment that promotes learning, then your child will have a greater chance of becoming the best student he can be.

This article was featured in Healthy Children Magazine.

C.S. Lewis on Freedom and Free Will

CSLewis-1917-wErnestMoore

C. S. Lewis in 1917, left, with friend Earnest Moore during World War I. Moore would later be killed, as were many of Lewis’ friends. (wilsonstation.com)

 If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will then we may take that it is worth paying.

 The very idea of freedom presupposes some objective moral law which overarches rulers and ruled alike. Unless we return to the crude and nursery-like belief in objective values, we perish.

 The lost enjoy forever the horrible freedom they have demanded.

 If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.

How to Help our Friends in the Fire?

black-forest-fire-2

 

How to help those affected by

WILDFIRES AND OTHER DISASTERS in ColoradO

INCLUDING BLACK FOREST FIRE

FINANCIAL GIFTS ARE THE BEST WAY TO HELP!

  • FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO VOLUNTARY AGENCIES RESPONDING TO DISASTERS IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO HELP to learn why, click here
  • Cash allows disaster agencies to purchase exactly what is needed
  • To make a financial gift to the organization of your choice, CLICK HERE for a list of reputable agencies responding to the disaster or dial 2-1-1 (or 1-866-760-6489)
  • Member agencies of Colorado Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster do not promote one charity over another. Please donate to a charity of your choice.

VOLUNTEERING

  • DO NOT GO TO THE SCENE OF A DISASTER
  • At this point, volunteers are not needed for the Colorado wildfires
  • The arrival of unexpected volunteers will interfere with response efforts
  • STAY SAFE by volunteering with a reputable agency!
  • Volunteers will be needed most during the recovery phase. Please be patient and WAIT until relief agencies can train you and use your help
  • Please CLICK HERE to sign up to volunteer and list in the ‘Comments’ section the name of the fire you would like to give your time to. If a volunteer need is identified, you will be contacted by the agency that can utilize your skills.

MATERIAL DONATIONS FOR WILDFIRES

  • Currently NO material donations are needed for the wildfires in Colorado
  • Donate ONLY those things that are requested by officials and bring them to the official designated collection centers – if established
  • Items not needed may go to waste and get in the way of relief efforts
  • Donations for VACANT rental properties, vacation homes, can be listed through Colorado Housing Search. Please note donated rooms in homes can NOT be accepted
  • Meal donations from restaurants (no home cooked meals please) may be needed for some local personnel and organizations supporting response efforts.  If you are a restaurant and want to donate meals, CLICK HERE, and then wait to be contacted (never bring food to a site unless it is requested).
  • CLICK HERE to list your donation. You will be contacted if your donation is needed.

OTHER WAYS TO HELP

  • For information on how to help dial 2-1-1 (or 1-866-760-6489)
  • Hold a yard sale or put on a fund-raising event and donate money raised to a voluntary organization responding to this disaster
  • Have you already collected goods but can’t find an agency that needs them? Donate items to a local charitable agency

Colorado Summer Vacations: Trip Planning Ideas, Things To Do & More

Longer, warmer days in Colorado inspire bursts of energy to get out and enjoy every moment of beautiful daylight — whether on a Rocky Mountain trail, the banks of a shimmering lake or a relaxing rooftop patio. Get started planning your next Colorado spring and summer vacations and find things to do by reading the articles below.

Hikers_Retouched2

8 Ways To Love Spring & Summer In Colorado

The forecast for summer in Colorado calls for big blue skies in the day and cool evenings at any altitude. Claim your share of our mild weather by getting outside and exploring every corner of Colorado, where there’s no end of summer things to do.

Hiking

Whether your goal is “Summit or Bust” up the side of a fourteener or more of a lazy creekside amble, Colorado has hundreds of miles of trails that are just your speed. They’re easy to access, and the catalog of available experiences is incredibly diverse — wildflower meadows, cliffs and canyons, swaying grasslands, rushing waterfalls and so many more.

Camping/Backpacking

There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to totally unplug on a camping trip, but Colorado will make sure you have all the inspiration to do so. With campsites in 41 state parks, more than 22 million acres of national forests and hundreds of private campgrounds, it’s easy to find a tranquil spot to get back to basics.

Mountain Biking/Cycling

In Colorado, bicycle riding is not just a way to get around before you get your drivers license: it’s a way of life. From the state that invented mountain biking and has dozens of endurance and high-altitude races, there’s an abundance of bike trails. There are also hundreds of miles of paved, flat trails for the more casual pedaler.

Boating

Colorado may be landlocked, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t shorelines. On thousands of acres of boat-worthy water, boaters travel through mountain basins and deep-water oases on the plains. Tow a water skier or just feel the wind on your face as you glide across Colorado’s lakes and reservoirs.

Golf

If you hear someone bragging about how far he hit the ball on a recent golf vacation, you might ask where he was when he experienced this feat. Chances are, it was in Colorado. At high altitude, where the air is thin and dry, everyone’s ball flies farther and straighter.

Horseback Riding

Dramatic scenic backdrops, endless trails and a history of horseback riding make Colorado a perfect destination for equestrian immersion. Each region offers a different landscape for horseback riding, pack trips, dude ranches and any level of horsemanship.

Kayaking & Whitewater Rafting

The headwaters of four major rivers begin in Colorado — the Colorado, Platte, Arkansas and Rio Grande — and every spring, whitewater lovers flock here with their kayaks strapped to the roofs of their cars and whitewater rafting reservations. Colorado’s abundance of outfitters, mellow rivers and challenging rapids make it the ideal place to put your paddle in the water.

Caving

One of the best ways to cool off from all these summer activities is to head underground, where two of the nation’s most popular natural caves can be found: Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs and Glenwood Caverns in Glenwood Springs.

http://www.colorado.com/spring-summer