John's Journal...

The Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School with Willie Webb, Jr.

The COAGS Experience

Greg MillerEditor’s Note: The Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School (COAGS), of Cripple Creek Colorado, is a unique learning environment which includes indoor classroom instruction and outdoor, hands-on activities that provide the students with the groundwork needed to attain success in the outdoor-recreation industry. Although most of the students aspire to become employed in the outdoors, COAGS welcomes any outdoors enthusiast who wants to become more comfortable in the wilds to participate in any or all of the courses.

Prospective COAGS students all seem to ask several common questions; what type of accommodations do you have; what type of gear should I bring; what do we do on the weekends and in our spare time; and, what type of schedule do we follow?

Accommodations: The Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School doesn’t have lavish accommodations, but the mountain vistas are well worth the trip to Cow Mountain. The main camp cabins are functional and rustic. The majority of students are males, but a growing number of females attend each year. COAGS does provide separate housing for male and female students, as well as couples. Students stay in one of the six cabins Greg Millerwith usually three or four assigned to a cabin. The cabins are designed with bunk beds and plenty of storage areas. COAGS provides heat, pillows and a bottom sheet; students are asked to bring their own sleeping bag. The shower house has two different rooms extremely-hot water. The lodge is the most-spacious building on the Gold Camp Ranch. It houses the indoor classroom, dining area and kitchen. The classroom where all power-point lectures and indoor lessons are held comfortably seats twenty. Prior to breakfast and morning chores, staff and students can follow news coverage on satellite television. The dining room is home to hot home-cooked meals and the students’ telephone line. The kitchen is small, but very efficient. It has a commercial oven where camp cooking begins and the students prepare breakfast. COAGS provides students with all the tack they’ ll need. COAGS is especially proud of the tack room and the storage facility, which is home to all riding and pack saddles, as well as any other tack needed in caring for stock. Students are expected to keep the tack room clean and put everything back in its designated place. During Pack Week, students and staff have the opportunity to spend several nights in a tent camp setting. Although everyone stays in 14X16-foot wall tents, the COAGS tent camp is exceptionally nice by most standards. Each tent has a wood burning stove, cots, table and chairs. Classes are held in camp, and students perform all the duties needed to run a successful and enjoyable tent camp, including cooking, gathering of firewood, packing and caring for the stock.

What Type of Gear should I Bring?

Anyone enrolling in a COAGS class can print out the recommended packing list, which is long. Students are asked to bring as much on the list as they can but are encouraged not to go in debt to buy everything on the list. The staff insists on students buying the best equipment they can afford. For all the Colorado courses, even the whitetail classes, sleeping bags rated for zero degrees, rain gear, good hiking and riding boots, a camera and a pair of binoculars are essential. Compasses, a GPS, wilderness survival kit, first-aid kit, sunscreen and sunglasses are also very important. COAGS encourages students to bring their archery equipment, since some members of tGreg Millerhe staff are archery fanatics and shoot often after classes and on the weekends. The whitetail classes in Texas have nicer accommodations with no need for sleeping bags. Texas is snake country so snake-proof boots, gaiters or chaps are recommended to also help protect against mesquite and prickly pear cactus. Horsemanship is not taught in Texas, so riding boots aren’t required. However, cowboy or large-brimmed hats that give protection from the sun, a camera, a pair of binoculars, a GPS, sun screen and sun glasses are also suggested.

What About Weekends?

In both Texas and Colorado, students have weekends free from instruction. Colorado students have the opportunity to experience all the Rocky Mountains have to offer. The mountain communities usually have some type of festival, art show or other weekend attraction during the summer months. Fly fishing and hiking are popular outings students enjoy in their free time. The Gold Camp Ranch is only minutes away from Pikes National Forrest and Skagway Reservoir. Some students venture down to the Arkansas River to fly fish and/or white water raft. Also, Colorado Springs is only an hour from the ranch, and Denver is a few hours away. The COAGS campuses in Texas are 2 1/2 hours from San Antonio less than an hour from Mexico. Some students will venture across the border. A few hours drive from the beautiful Texas hill country, students can fish and float some of Texas’s pristine rivers. COAGS students also can contact the staff on possible hog hunts on different Texas ranches.

What’s the Daily Schedule Like?

Each COAGS course has a slightly-different schedule. Orientation begins the Greg Millerfirst of every class. Students learn about the school and their instructors. Orientation also gives the staff an opportunity to hear each student’s unique story and reasons for coming to the Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School. The staff assigns different groups to perform ranch duties throughout the week. Depending on the number of students, generally one group will have kitchen duty per day, and one group will have wrangler duty, rotating responsibilities during the week.  The kitchen group will begin cooking breakfast and learning all the tasks performed by a camp cook. The camp cook is considered the “lifeline” of a camp and is responsible for the efficiency of the camp. Time only allows students to cook breakfast; however, anyone wanting to cook other meals is encouraged, and arrangements can be made for them to do so. Wrangler duties begin in the corrals with putting out hay and grain for the stock. These students are in charge of the tack room and the corral’s upkeep throughout the day. They also help round-up the stock. After breakfast, all students meet at the corrals to halter, feed, brush and pick the feet of all the stock. Students will then either saddle their assigned animals or turn out the stock, depending on the scheduled activities for that particular day. Lunch will usually be around noon. Students have classes between lunch and supper. After supper, students will have a reading assignment or watch a video. Daily subjects and outside activities are subject to change because of weather. The whitetail classes are different because the students don’t deal with the stock; however, the students do have kitchen duty, reading assignments, and videos after supper. Whitetail students tend to have more class room lectures, but the staff tries to get outside as much as possible. The Texas campuses offer times to observe whitetails in the field.  Students can take cameras and video equipment to the stands during their in-the-field observations, which allows the staff and students to review the animals and practice aging and scoring on the hoof.

For anyone wants more information or to ask questions, please go online to or call 1-800-714-4864. Remember, a career in the outdoors has a doorway at the Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School.

Tomorrow: What is COAGS?

Check back each day this week for more about "The Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School with Willie Webb, Jr."

Day 1: Whitetails and Dreams
Day 2: What You’ll Learn at the Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School
Day 3: The COAGS Experience
Day 4: What is COAGS?
Day 5: COAGS’ Graduates and Their Futures


Entry 375, Day 3