In the March 2016 Issue of The Petroglyph…

  • Amanda Sturner on Experiential Education
  • What Deer Hill Means to Me, Ambassador Beth Capelin
  • Meet the New Faces at Basecamp
  • In Photos: Spring at Deer Hill
  • Still Time to Find Yourself this Summer

The Life-Changing Power of Experiential Education

Amanda Sturner, Life Coach, RMT Certified

“I Hear and I Forget, I See and I Remember, I Do and I Understand.” – Chinese Proverb

At age 16, my parents suggested I embark on an experiential education adventure. They saw me spending too much time on the phone, idly chatting with friends, and my general lack of motivation and direction. My grades were just okay, and as a cross-country and track runner, I came in mid-pack during races. My parents saw average, and they were right. I was not living at my potential. After two weeks in the wilderness with a group of strangers, I returned home a different person. My grades became straight A’s and I won my races. Not because I studied longer or trained more. My mindset had shifted; I was capable of anything. Experiential education has the power to teach us that we are capable of anything we set our minds to. The impact of that lesson is immeasurable. It fosters leaders of positive change on every scale.

Now, having worked in the experiential education field for over 20 years, I am very familiar with the questions on everyone’s mind: “Why is it so powerful? How does it produce the same, incredibly wonderful results every time?” Here is my answer: There is magic in the combination of a wilderness setting and groups working together to overcome challenges. Kurt Hahn, a pioneer of experiential education stated, “There is more in us than we know. If we can be made to see it; perhaps, for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less.”

Experiential education wakes us up from the haze of our habits, and reminds us that life is a fun adventure; we grow, we change, we become. It breathes a fresh wind into the boredom and fruitlessness of stagnation. Life shifts from one-dimensional to 3D, because we are experiencing what we learn. It’s the difference between hearing about a mountain, seeing a picture of a mountain, or climbing a mountain. Only the latter strengthens us physically, intellectually and morally. Climbing the mountain vs. hearing about it or seeing it is also a lot more fun, and engages all of our senses.

Experiential education is a game changer, and what you learn affects your daily life in positive ways you never could have predicted. The resourcefulness, sense of confidence, compassion, and zest you acquire will, very literally, change the life that you lead. Obstacles become challenges you overcome with confidence. Other people, maybe once perceived as “different from you,” become “people like you”.

Leaders are created through experiential education experiences, because you learn to have confidence in yourself and in others. You naturally see others’ strengths and potential rather than limitations. You understand what it took to get yourself up the mountain, because you climbed it, step by step. You know and live by the inherent value of yourself, others, and the natural world.

You won’t hear and forget, or see and remember. You will understand how to lead an extraordinary life of fun, compassion and adventure.

Amanda Sturner, RMT is a certified Strategic Intervention Life Coach, and the founder of Stretch Zone Coaching. She teaches specific tools to create the changes you want or need. She can be reached at

What Deer Hill Means to Me

Beth Capelin, Ambassador, Three-time Alumni Parent

I married into the Capelin/DH family, and not only witnessed its growth, but put hammer to nail almost thirty years ago to assist in its early construction! None of that influenced my opinion about the quality of the DH program or the decision to allow my children to go to Mancos, Co. My three children spent a total of eight summers at Deer Hill, and the experiences and memories will forever be a part of their fabric.

All three children anxiously awaited their turn and “coming of age” to participate. A scenic photo taken in the Weminuche wilderness four years ago was recently blown up to poster size and now hangs in the college dorm rooms of two of my sons…a fond memory of a very beautiful place with a special group of friends.

I am passionate about DH and am certain that DH can make a big impact on a young person’s life. It is difficult for me to contain my enthusiasm when I talk about DH to family, friends and neighbors in and around my community. I’ve given slide presentations, represented DH at camp fairs, and spoken to many parents in my community. My children have also helped to recruit their friends, spoken to peers and parents, at fairs, at our home and over the phone.

Why do we do this? It is not because our last name is “Capelin”. It is because a few weeks at Deer Hill can have a profoundly positive effect on a young person and who that person will become. So much can be discovered in the middle of nowhere.

Deer Hill Welcomes New Faces to Basecamp

Starting in mid-February, Jordan Lang is Deer Hill’s new Sales and Admissions Manager, welcoming participants to the Circle; as of the beginning of March, Justin Shauinger is the Facility Manager, keeping vehicles running smoothly, and Basecamp looking sharp; come April, two-time alum, Dori Wilcox will support the Outreach Department as Deer Hill’s Photography Intern. Welcome!

Jordan Lang

Sales and Admissions Manager

I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Colorado in Manitou Springs. I went to college in Durango and graduated with an Environmental Studies and Agriculture degree from Fort Lewis College. From there I ventured off to the islands of Washington State to farm and live the simple life by the Pacific. Eventually, I craved the dry climate and high desert landscape of Southwest Colorado where my heart belongs deep in the desert canyons and high in the San Juan Mountains. Working with Deer Hill allows me to share with others these remarkable places that I love to call home.

Jordan, Sales and Admissions Manager

Justin Shauinger

Facility Manager

Born and raised west of Phoenix, Arizona, I grew up in the small town of Waddell. There at the base of the White Tanks Mountains, I began to appreciate the wilderness, learning from the Arizona desert. After completing my education in the “Valley of the Sun,” I found myself looking for life in the mountains. This brought my wife and me to Durango in 2006. For the last 10 years I have worked in a variety of construction fields, most notably, the City of Durango’s Utility Department, where I earned certifications as a Colorado Water Professional. As the Facility Manager at DHE, I am excited to combine my skills, work ethic and love for the outdoors to support the many adventures happening around us.

Dori Wilcox

Photography Intern

Dori is California born and raised. After attending Deer Hill for two summers, she majored in Digital Arts at Chapman University and worked various art jobs. She is currently studying to be an ESL teacher to travel the world. Despite her suburban lifestyle thus far, she craves the adrenaline of adventure sports and the peace of the mountains. She’ll be joining the team of Deer Hill interns this year to take photos of the campers and the surrounding wilderness. Dori hopes to be able to share the therapeutic effects of nature with the younger generation. In her free time, she can be found petting strangers’ dogs or watching indie drama films.

Spring in the Southwest

In Photos

I grew up in New England, where when spring rolls around, everything becomes green once again, as if the world were pulling on a leafy, green robe. I lived, for a number of years in the Pacific Northwest, where when spring rolls around, everything becomes… well, greener, as if the world were adding a green hat-and-scarf to its monochromatic ensemble. Here at Deer Hill, spring brings river trips and service projects–we’re all gearing up to host a raft (pun intended) of school groups on river expeditions and service projects this spring.

– Gabriel Bernier, Outreach Director

Alumni and Sibling Discounts

If you’d like to return for another Deer Hill experience, we’d love to have you back. Please take $200 off your tuition as a Deer Hill Alumnus. Also, families sending siblings, please enjoy the same $200 discount. (As much as we’d love to, we are unable to combine these discounts, though. Thank you for understanding.)