With over 30 years of teaching experience to her credit, Morton is a Northern Colorado artist, illustrator and picture book maker encompassing all the qualities needed to make her a true creativity specialist.


All sorts of mediums are used in this art workshop, which allows children to explore and create to their fullest potential. Art parties, art classes and large-scale murals are just a few of the different realms Ms. Morton explores with kids who are eager to express themselves.


“This experience is rich in materials and every week we are exploring something new,” states Morton. “There is always painting, drawing, mixed media and sculpture in each session. When these kids come to me after school, they are just pouring with creativity.”


The class that I observed created soap carvings out of simple, plain Ivory bar soap. The room smelled great and the kids were happy. They had never done anything like this before and were giddy with excitement. The students watched and listened when their teacher explained how to “take away” from the rectangular shape to create something entirely different.


Morton is no stranger to teaching. In 1972, she opened a preschool called Sunshine School. Although the preschool is no longer around, she has kept her artistic educational dreams alive through the years with running a Children’s Art Workshop, outreach programs and open studios all over the U.S.


“The reason why I think I connect as a teacher is that I truly believe and tap into the creative spirit of each child,” says Morton. “Self discovery through art; art is adventure, materials are magic. Materials are the process through which they discover themselves.

You get to learn about yourself when you come here. It was nice to see the children have great satisfaction in their eyes when they try to do something and they realize that they can actually do it.”


Morton loves sharing her passion with people; she connects with children in particular.

At the end of several weeks of sessions, the children are asked to present their three favorite pieces for family and friends in an informal Art Show.


“The kids talk about their art and there is nothing more powerful than that,” says Morton with a smile. “They talk about their inner feelings of creativity. It’s very extraordinary.”

Everyone is encouraged to title his or her work. Morton notices that once they’ve created something, sometimes the titles get more poetic.


It is well known that with art, children can express themselves in ways that they can’t otherwise communicate.


As Morton says, “Everybody wants somebody to see who they really are. That’s my forte. That’s what I do. I see who they are and reflect that back to them.”


You can find more information about this tucked away art school at and by emailing Stephie herself: and calling 970-227-3356


Malini Bartels is a freelance writer, chef, mother, radio host and actress living the good life in Fort Collins.

There are two schools of thought on camping. The first group usually lights right up when you mention your favorite campground or hike and then follows with, “Ooh! Me too!” The second might offer a pitying look, or perhaps a guilty one, explaining that Motel 6 is about as rough as they can stand and that's pushing it. I was once in the latter group, but I slowly converted, thanks to my children and husband's enthusiasm.


As a young married person, I really saw no reason to fritter my vacation time being miserably cold and dirty. There were European countries to explore! Weekend getaways! Cheap flights! Then came kids, and my world got a lot smaller. I discovered that air travel, car trips and hotel stays with small children were nightmarish and crazy expensive. Keeping a wakeful, disoriented child quiet so others can sleep makes you question leaving the house ever again.


So with budget and solitude in mind, my husband and I ventured to the high country with our wee ones. We have discovered that everyone sleeps (eventually), and campfires are great soothing spaces in the mean time. Everything tastes amazing when camping. Maybe it's the heightened awareness that comes with knowing there are bears are close by that makes you really appreciate every meal.


If you are planning on trying out camping this year, I have a few suggestions. For the purposes of this article, I'm sticking to sites along the Poudre River or close to it.


Pick a Spot

Believe it or not, May is kind of late to be planning camping trips for the summer. The flannel-wearing, seasoned campers reserved their favorite spots last January. But, all is not lost. Most of the U.S. Forest Service-managed campgrounds have a few first-come, first-served spots.


Forest Service campgrounds offer RV and tent sites, campfire rings and a parking spot. Many of these campgrounds also have toilet facilities and potable water. Especially if you can camp mid-week, these drop-in sites are a great deal. If you are aiming for a weekend drop in, you'll want to claim your spot by noon on Friday at the latest. Typical fees are $20 per night. Our absolute favorite site is Chamber's Lake, at the top of Cameron Pass on CO Highway 14. It has tent-only walk-in sites right on the lake with unbelievable views. Or you can check for cancellations. If you haunt the reservation website, last-minute cancellations do happen. We lucked into a weekend at Dowdy Lake near Red Feather Lakes this way.


For us, the campgrounds are fun, but a bit loud. If the thought of being elbow to elbow with everyone else from Fort Collins isn't for you, consider Dispersed Camping. You might miss the running water, toilets and picnic tables, but you will be less likely to suffer any drunken parties, loud music and unruly dogs. (That's not the campground norm, but it does happen from time to time.) Best of all, dispersed camping is FREE.


When choosing a dispersed camping site, it is important to know exactly where you are. Some areas in national forests and grasslands are closed to dispersed campers, so the Forest Service suggests you check with the local Ranger District  if you aren't sure about camping in a specific area. Obviously, don't camp on private land without permission. We like dispersed camping in the Canyon Lakes district. The majority of the land in the Arapaho Roosevelt National Forest is open to dispersed camping. This map gives specific directions.


Whether you are in a managed site or out on your own, these rules apply to everyone.


• Find out if there are any forest campfire restrictions. If fires are allowed, use established fire rings where they exist. Put out your fire until it is cold to the touch.


• Watch for falling or dangerous trees. Pine beetle kill is readily apparent in these forests, and while the Forest Service is working to keep the danger to a minimum, dead trees do occasionally come down.


• Manage your food with wildlife safety in mind. This is bear and mountain lion country. Keep the good smelling stuff locked in your car inside the cooler or in trash bags. Remember, you are a guest in their home.


• Leave no trace means no half-burned trash in the fire pit and no cigarette butts left on the ground. If you brought it up, pack it out.


Pack Like No One is Watching

After you have a spot figured out, it's time to start making lists. With kids, you really can't bring enough stuff. Resist the guilt about pulling out of town like the Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath, packed in the car among all their earthly possessions. Trust me, you'll need ALL of those drink boxes, pancake mix, granola bars and ham sandwiches. You can never have enough marshmallows. And beer. You need beer. Plus lots of water; high altitude (and beer) are dehydrating. I'm sure you will remember to bring clothes and extra shoes, sunscreen and all that stuff. Our common pitfall is forgotten loveys. My kids drift about the house with the beloved blankies and Elly-Phants as I pack like a whirlwind and then – inexplicably - will leave them behind when it's time to go. Woe to the parent who forgets the lovey.


What to Do

Hiking in the Poudre Canyon is absolutely amazing. If you stay close to Chamber's Lake, hike the Zimmerman Lake Trail. It's a moderate climb with light use. Early in the season the trickling snowmelt creates magical fairy-like views through the forest.


When we are close to the town of Red Feathers, we like to visit the Shambhala Mountain Center. With eight miles of walking trails and the tallest Buddhist temple in North America, it's an experience that is enchanting to all kinds of people. Suggested donation is $10.


Chances are, you'll get tired of cooking and/or your bread will get soggy. That's great news, people!

Archer's Canyon Grille, next to Archer's Country Store on Poudre Canyon Road has excellent cheeseburgers and sweet potato fries. Best of all, they never comment on the sad state of my unwashed hair.


Some of our family's fondest memories are from camping trips. The s'mores, fishing for crawdads, the time a whole herd of cows wandered through the campground, unbelievable stars, the time I helped my husband back the car up... right into a tree. Good memories, all. I'm a definite camping convert. Maybe you will be too.


Corey Radman writes and mothers in Fort Collins. Find more of her work at


Camping with Kids in the

Poudre Canyon

By Corey Radman

May 1, 2014

When it comes to having a passion for the arts and transferring that love and spark to children, Stephie Morton is an expert. From the moment I met her, I could sense the creativity flowing in her veins and racing through her mind. I just knew I had to come back and observe how this woman commands a classroom full of enthusiastic and imaginative children.


The experience was everything I thought it would be for a business with the name ideas happen here. The small art school and creativity lab for children is located in the Art Center of Fort Collins at 402 North College Avenue. It’s quite the treasure I stumbled into one day while I was visiting the OpenStage Theatre office.

Ideas Happen Here

By Malini Bartels

May 1, 2014

The history of the twins, FO and FE Stanley is a fascinating, all-American story; two boys from the middle class become wealthy men through entrepreneurships and business savvy. Despite being twins, the two brothers couldn’t have been more different, and the stories of how each man spent and managed his wealth are intriguing. You’ll also learn how they really made their money. Most people are surprised to learn that it’s wasn’t by selling Stanley Steamer automobiles.


Did you know that the iconic Stanley Hotel was originally painted mustard yellow? You’ll learn this and more on The Stanley Tour, covering history, ghost stories and more. Sign up for a tour by visiting their website at


Be sure to visit the ruins of Al Birch’s cabin located on the hill in the park behind the Estes Park Town Hall. The short, uphill climb to the rocky remains of the cabin provides excellent vistas of downtown Estes Park and the Continental Divide. Al Birch was a journalist at the Denver Post, and built the wood and stone cabin in the early 1900s. When a fire destroyed the roof and wooden parts of the home, he rebuilt a different cabin at the bottom of the same hill, which his family used until the mid-1980s.


Try the Rocky Mountain Pizza at Poppy’s Pizza & Grill. Topped with smoked trout, capers, cream cheese and red onion, it’s a favorite of many folks who visit Estes Park each year in eager anticipating of ordering this unique item at Poppy’s. See the entire menu at


Claire’s on the Park has been serving Estes Park comfort food since the 1980s. You’ll likely run into Claire during your visit as she frequently visits with customers. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the patio is the perfect spot to dine alfresco on a warm summer day. Claire’s is online at


Heading into the park? Grab a coffee at Summitview Coffee at 865 Morraine Avenue. Their Chicken Fried Latte, made with peanut butter and love, is happiness in a cup.


If you aren’t staying at the YMCA of the Rockies, a day pass is required to participate in activities on the property. The 2014 rates are $20 per adult, $10 per child (age 6-12) with children 5 and under free. Your family can become a member of YMCA of the Rockies, which allows you to access all recreational and program facilities at both locations including the Nordic Center at Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, Colorado. A membership also includes other perks and more information can be found at


Devil’s Gulch Road provides a scenic drive back to Northern Colorado. The children can nap while you take in views of the ranch lands of Estes Park and the tiny town of Glen Haven.


Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer is a freelance writer and founder of, the place for entertaining information on Colorado festival and travel. Her articles have appeared in and EnCompass Magazine.


Become an Estes Park insider

with tips from the author of

A Weekend in Estes Park

By Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer

May 1, 2014

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