Monthly Archives: April 2016

Adventure is out there!

Spring is here and summer is on its way! Now is the best time to get outside and explore Southern California. We have state parks and national parks within a short drive, as well as plenty of smaller county parks and green spaces even closer to home. Here is a list of just a few places you can explore this summer.


A view from Tahquitz Peak in Idyllwild, CA


Joshua Tree National Park is probably one of California’s best known parks. Sunsets and stars at night are outstanding. During the day, there are many hikes and climbing spots to visit. Make sure you bring lots and lots of water for the desert heat!


Idyllwild, CA has lots of hiking trails including trails up to Mount San Jacinto and Tahquitz Peak. It is an easy place to find campgrounds or even rent a cabin for a weekend. The town is a fun place to explore with many small shops and restaurants. The views of Lily Rock are impossible to ignore. Bonus: it’s pretty close to Pathfinder if you want to find a hike in Garner Valley!


Crystal Cove State Park located on the coast in Orange County offers some nice beaches, hiking trails, and rocks to climb around on if you aren’t so interested in deserts or mountains. There are tide pools to check out some sea creatures and there’s also space for camping if you want to spend a night by the beach!


Take a hike up to the Hollywood Sign! It’s a classic for visitors to Southern California, so take your time to experience what so many people come to this place to see!


Julian, CA and Oak Glen, CA are great for apple picking at the end of summer when all of the apples start to ripen! Both places have camping and hiking nearby to burn off the cider and apple pie you’re bound to taste.


If none of these places interest you, take a look through all of your options at these websites:


Find your nearby state park:


Or a nearby county park:

When I say “Team”, you say “Challenge”! TEAM CHALLENGE!

So your kids have come home after an amazing time at Pathfinder Ranch, in Mountain Center. You hear your kid say “We did team challenge” and you think, “What is that?”

Team Challenge has been going on for years at Pathfinder Ranch, but did you know it all started with a non-profit organization called Project Adventure aka PA in Massachusetts? The mission for PA is to provide leadership in the expansion of adventure-based experiential programming.

Here at Pathfinder, your students have the opportunity to challenge themselves to “think differently” and discover their leadership potential.

Starting things off

Every team challenge will start with a pre-brief, which is a way of getting the kids mentally ready to work as a team. Our instructors often use metaphor cards to see how the students perceive the meaning of teamwork and talk about how they’re going to support each of their team members.

Some groups will also talk about the Steps to Problem Solving:

                1. Stay Calm
                2. Define the Problem
                3. Brainstorm (try not to judge)
                4. Evaluate Possible Solution
                5. Choose a Solution
                6. Try it!
                7. Evaluate the Results
                8. Facts
                9. Feelings 

These steps are on cards which allow the students to place them in a meaningful order agreed upon by the group; which creates the team’s full value contract. These steps also allow all students to stop, think, and evaluate their success.



Some of the activities that your student may have done at Pathfinder are:

Championship Find (Large group, played with the multi-image side) – This is a fun, light- hearted, competitive (and noisy) activity.  Using an Ubuntu deck, from High 5 Adventure Learning Center, Vermont USA, give each person a card and ask everyone to find a partner. On your signal, have the partners turn over their cards and race to find the matching image. The person who finds the match first wins and takes the opponent’s card. The person who lost joins the winner’s “team” as an enthusiastic fan and cheerleader. Winners continue to play by finding another undefeated participant to play against, while they’re growing fan bases cheers them on. Play until one person has all the cards and all the fans


Students using an “Ubuntu” deck, from High 5 Adventure Learning Center, Vermont USA to complete a Championship Find initiative

Turnstyle – (Large group, played with a retired climbing rope) This activity takes a long rope or a jump rope. Two facilitators stand in front of each other and turn the rope, much like jump rope. The group’s objective is to get the whole group from one side of the rope to the other, without touching the rope. The group may not go behind the facilitators and there must be one person jumping at all times.


Helium Stick- (medium group, plated with a hula hoop) Take the hula hoop and hold it horizontally about chest height and ask the kids to hold the hoop onto of their index fingers and lower it to the ground as a team. May seem easy, but its challenging if everyone doesn’t come together and work as a team.


Key Punch- (Large group, played with 28 large cards with numbers) The facilitator has the numbers 1-28 written on cards and throws them in the air while the students are in a line shoulder to shoulder. From there, the kids run to retrieve the cards and put them in numerical order from 1-28 with 28 being on top. The timer starts when the facilitator says, “GO” and it stops when everyone is behind the rope line or a line you choose and the cards are in the facilitator’s hand. Typically 3 rounds are done and the students are trying to improve their time.

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Wrapping things up

Throughout all activities, the students are allowed to call a time out and communicate with their team members and create a plan, see how the plan works and reevaluate their progress.At the end of each activity, the students get the opportunity to debrief their experience and how there going to take what they learned back to their communities at home.

One debrief that Fez does is called: What…So What…Now What

There is often resistance and a hesitancy to speak up during a debrief. It may be easiest to get people talking first about:

What: 1. What happened? 2. Who did what? 3. Who was last, who was first, who suggested ideas, who were the leaders, whose ideas was used? 4. When did the group seem stuck, what happened that go the group moving again? 5. Were there times when there was a general group feeling of: frustration, euphoria, etc.? 6. As a group: what were you especially good at, where could you improve?

So What:  1. How do you feel about your own, or the groups, performance? 2. What significant issues did you notice (Or you can ask about specific issues).

Now What: 1. In the next initiative what do you want to do differently based on what you’ve learned? 2. In your school (or where ever), how can you apply these lessons and make them a reality?

About your blogger: Fez has been working at Pathfinder for the past couple of months and comes from Connecticut. Fez also comes from a background of 10+ years of facilitating team-building programs to schools and corporate groups on the east coast and Colorado.  In June, Fez will be getting his ACCT Level 2 Practitioner Certification through High 5 Adventure Learning Center in Vermont.







Earth Day Celebrations

Earth day is April 22nd! Join Pathfinder and people all over the world in honoring the earth. 

Earthday pin

Earth day was first celebrated in 1970 following an oil spill off the coast of Southern California.  This event brought attention to the need for a day to celebrate and care for the earth. 



Find a way to get involved:

April 16th

Celebrate earth day by helping out with Cal Parks!  Follow this link to get connected with a park in your area and help out with park improvement projects including park clean ups and restoration.

April 20th

Earth Day at The Living Desert – This event will offer fun and exciting activities for the entire family. Bring a recyclable item and trade it for a native plant grown at The Living Desert. For more information contact 760-346-5694.

April 21st

Eco-Station Children’s Earth Day - Encourage children to become “green” at this all-day children’s festival. There will be live entertainment, food, games, vendors, and educational activities for children.

April 25th

California Citrus State Historic Park Earth Day Glean and Clean Event - Join your community in citrus tree planting, grove gleaning and clean up along with other earth friendly activities! Free parking for Volunteers. Registration starts at 8 am at the Visitor Center. Cost: Free

Or use this link to find an event:

You don’t have to wait until earth day to celebrate the earth…. Start now!

  • Conserve water at home
  • Plant native wildflowers to help our butterflies and bees
  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room
  • Recycle!
  • Save your leftover food to eat again later
  • Use both sides of the paper before you recycle it
  • Clean up trash in your neighborhood
Connect with us on Facebook and let us know what you are doing to help the earth this year 

Pathfinder Picnic

Caramel Apples

These caramel apples were to die for.

Despite gusts of up to 30mph, the Palm Springs Pathfinders trekked up the mountain to enjoy a day full of recreation and great food. The Pathfinder Picnic is held annually to honor and thank the Palm Springs Pathfinders, a women’s group that helped establish and continues to support Pathfinder Ranch. The Pathfinders and their families had the opportunity to participate in archery, canoeing, climbing and horseback rides. We are pleased that they were able to come to the ranch to connect with our staff and experience some of the activities that we offer to our students. The dining hall provided delicious BBQ on tables decorated with re-purposed materials and compostable table cloths to enforce our environmentally friendly mission. The caramel apples were quite the hit! We are excited to share how much Pathfinder Ranch has grown and look forward to seeing our friends next year!’



A beautiful, eco-concious, table arrangement


The kitchen staff stole the show with the delicious meal that they prepared