Local students become Junior Archaeologists for a week
VALLEY — The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area, The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, and The Fort Garland Museum (a History Colorado Museum), partnered for their third annual Junior Archaeologist Camp.
Middle school students participated in a three-day camp the week of July 10th. During the week of July 17th the high school students have a week-long camp. Some of the sites they visited include the petroglyphs of Trinchera Creek, the Scott Miller prehistoric archaeological site, the Baca National Wildlife Refuge, Trujillo Homestead National Historic Landmark, and observation at an active archaeological survey in Punche Valley.
“It has been the funnest camp that I’ve ever been to. I paid to go to [another] camp and this was not only better, but free. I cannot thank you enough,”- Damion Garcia (middle school camp). Damion is from the Alamosa School District. He applied to the camp because he wanted to learn more about his ancestors and how they came to the San Luis Valley.
The camp is designed to expose students to the history, culture, and archaeology of the San Luis Valley, and to cultivate relationships between students from different school districts within the three counties of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area; Alamosa, Conejos, and Costilla.
Nicholas Scarborough, park ranger at the Sand Dunes, served as camp leader. He helped the students to recognize their personal strengths, develop a sense of social responsibility to care for our area’s heritage and historical artifacts. He also introduced them to the concept of constant reflection about the meaning and purpose of what they were learning. Learning new and exciting things during this camp has been a rewarding adventure for camp students.
“I had never been to those sites before and it was really cool learning more about the history of the Valley,” Adrian Churder (high school camp). Adrian is from the North Conejos School District. He applied to the camp in an effort to learn more about archaeology.
The Scott Miller site, located on the Monte Vista Wildlife Refuge, was a favorite for the camp participants. This site is usually closed to the public. However, owners granted permission for the camp to access the site. While at the site, students saw some of the artifacts dating back 10,000 years or more, including a mammoth tooth. Students were surprised to learn that these majestic beasts used to roam the San Luis Valley. The site holds more than 1,000 identified artifacts.
Latino Heritage Intern Marissa Ortega, who is a shared intern between the Great Sand Dunes National Park and the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area, had the opportunity to assist with the middle school camp. “One site that was of particular interest to me was the Scott Miller site at Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge. I was able to hold ivory tusks, a whole intact tooth, and an arm bone! Talk about the coolest camp ever!”
For more information about the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area visit their website at sdcnha.org
For more information about the Fort Garland Museum call 719-379-3512.
For more information about the Great Sand Dunes National Park visit their website at nps.gov/grsa
Caption: Park Ranger Nicholas Scarborough teaches students about mammoths at the Scott Miller Archaeological Site. Courtesy photo