Donate to Support the Gulch, and our new Strategic Plan!

December 2, 2021
Dear Gulch Community,

What a year we’ve had! Despite the pandemic, we have much to celebrate: we completed a successful summer, we are currently working with over 20 different schools, and we brought over 1,000 young trekkers on outdoor experiences throughout New Mexico.

How did we make all this happen? Financial support from people like you is at the top of the list. Since the pandemic began, our community has been wonderfully generous, helping us not just weather a di????cult period, but nourish. I see an organization that is stronger than it was before COVID-19 became part of our vocabulary. Much of that is thanks to support from people like you.

Don’t ever doubt that your donation makes a difference. The Gulch community’s financial support helped us make great things happen in the last year, and we are asking for your support again as we enter 2022, our 96th year.
Our plans for the coming year are ambitious. We are aiming for full enrollment in our summer programs, with more scholarships than ever before. We are expanding our Students in Wilderness Initiative program to work with 400 New Mexican 8th graders in under-resourced schools in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Gallup. We will invest in our Basecamp land and infrastructure by making improvements to our buildings and conducting a prescribed burn. And we are beginning to implement a new strategic plan that will guide us toward our 100th anniversary.

To make those things happen, we ask for your help. If there’s anything we have learned in the last two years, it is that “The Gulch” is more than just a beautiful plot of land, and more than just a series of outdoor treks. It is an enduring group of thoughtful, engaged people. You are part of that community, and your donation will help make us even stronger.

Join us in making sure the Gulch continues to provide treasured memories and life-shaping experiences, as it has for you and thousands of others.

Jordan Stone
Executive Director
P.S. Don’t just take my word for it, see the stories below of Jamie and Chung, two Gulch alumni who embody our values of adventure, personal growth, and shared community.

Chung To, Mountain Desert Trek, 2021
Before trekking with Cottonwood Gulch, I had a lot of doubts flowing through my head: would I really enjoy 6 weeks out in the middle of nowhere? Would I be able to live without my phone? What if I didn’t like the people I ended up with? Wouldn’t I lose an entire summer of time that I could be spending preparing for college?
I finally told myself that I would just try it out and see how it goes. Little did I know that it would be the best decision I could have made. Through the Gulch, I was able to learn to open up to people, not be afraid to try new things, and appreciate things the way they are. When I got back home in August I barely had time to get the paperwork done for college and only found a place to live the day before classes started, but… It was totally, 100%, worth it.

Jamie Kresberg, Prairie Trek 1982-1984, Parent of Trekkers 2014-2016, Visiting Scholar 2017-present. The photo to the right shows Jamie (left) with his family on his daughter’s birthday.

I was a trekker for three summers during the early 1980s. I have returned to the Gulch several times in recent years as a volunteer Basecamp sta???? member, teaching pottery, guitar, and songwriting.
Though I didn’t fully understand it until middle age, my experiences at the Gulch shaped me in profound ways. For example, After my mother’s death ten years ago, I picked up my guitar, searched for words to express my grief, and wrote my first song. Where did I get the idea to connect with others through music, and that some feelings are easier to sing than to say?

Surely it was the Gulch, singing “Cottonwoods” and “Rock Me To Sleep” at the end of an intense, life-changing summer some forty years ago. As a young trekker I struggled to process what I had shared with my new Gulch family, the love I felt so deeply for them, and my sadness about saying goodbye. I didn’t have the words or a way to express these feelings, but the songs did. Cottonwood Gulch gave me–and all of us–the space, the time, sky, and the stars to put it into perspective.
Thinking about my relationship with Cottonwood Gulch, I recall a line from the song “Cottonwoods” that goes, “Is it true what they say how some things never end?” Nearly forty years on from when I first set foot at basecamp, I can confidently say the answer is “Yes.”
Cottonwood Gulch is always at the top of my giving list, and not just because of the personal connection. I know from seeing it first-hand during recent visits that the organization is incredibly well-run. The dedication, work ethic, and professionalism of the state and board are truly remarkable. In fact, if I could and fault, it is perhaps that everyone is working too hard! I hope that my modest donations will make a small difference, whether it is upgrading basecamp facilities, repairing a truck, or expanding the organization’s reach to more young people.

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