Community service is a core value, and a way of life, at Colorado Rocky Mountain School. Young adults are compelled to go beyond mere academic and outdoor achievement to become productive, engaged members of society. We believe that learning opportunities are bolstered when we pursue activities that truly value the contributions of all community members and that reward us for our effort and collaboration. When students are confronted with work that is valuable and purposeful, we find they gain self-confidence. Our graduates truly exemplify the scholastic vision held by the Holdens when they founded CRMS in 1953: that a successful student recognizes the value in serving oneself and others and pursues excellence in every corner. Be it an on- or off-campus community service activity, every experience is designed to be meaningful. Academics, wilderness adventures, physical work, community service, and residential life all intertwine to give our students a total education. In the words of founder John Holden, “It is my firm belief that the happiest people in the world are those who serve their fellow man.”
Specific examples of community service at CRMS include the following:
The focus of this program is to provide character development through service to the community, developing specific skills while working in small groups, and meaningful participation in the work necessary to sustain the CRMS community.
The objectives of this program are to teach students about the value of physical work, instill a sense of place and caring for the environment in which we live, and foster a sense of pride in work well done and in making a meaningful contribution to the community as a whole. Students participate in work groups two afternoons a week, in addition to a weekly campus-wide activity.
Unique to CRMS, and something that we have done since the school’s beginning, are Household Jobs. Household Jobs are the way in which the community contributes to the vital task of keeping the campus clean and tidy. By performing Household Jobs three times a week, we are able to keep our housekeeping staff to a minimum and, more important, students are able to gain the necessary skills of cleaning and of service to others.
Household Jobs are completed in advisee groups. Advisors and advisees are responsible for one area of campus and they spend 15 minutes between second and third periods attending to their chores. Examples of Household Jobs are: vacuuming and picking up in the classrooms, cleaning the Student Lounge, helping in the kitchen with recycling, and several different jobs in the administrative building. Of course, in 1953 Household Jobs may have been a little different (like the "Breakfast Making Household Job" at 5:30 a.m., where students were in charge of making the school breakfast), but the significance of the task to the community is still the same.
Wilderness Community Service
New students begin the year with a ten-day backpacking Wilderness Orientation in the nearby high peaks, during which they learn map-reading and other technical skills, a Leave-No-Trace wilderness ethic, and the value of service through U.S. Forest Service (USFS) trail work.
All service is completed by individual trip groups, not only to help the forest service and their trails but also to help build a sense of teamwork and camaraderie before heading deeper into the wilderness for seven days together. The trail work that CRMS provides includes everything from pruning tree limbs back for clear headway on trails to building bridges over rivers and streams. All service projects are equipped with appropriate tools by the USFS, and groups are educated on how to use each safely and efficiently. With CRMS providing over 2,000 hours of USFS labor each year, it is obvious that we take our community service seriously.
Scholarship Work Day
Scholarship Work Day is an annual event that was initiated by students in 1965 to raise funds to help make a Colorado Rocky Mountain School education available to all students, regardless of their economic status. One day each spring, teams of CRMS students and faculty go to homes, ranches, and businesses around our community to do work. Scholarship Work Day exemplifies the CRMS core values of community service, respect, responsibility, and a strong work ethic while simultaneously raising funds for fellow students.