Denver Cultural Experience Through Service and Sports

Mountain Connection, March 19, 2024

Last week, Samantha and I took a group of students out of the wilds of Steamboat and down the Front Range to Denver for a sojourn of cultural and regional perspective. Our trip included shopping, community service, hockey, Top Golf, and local cuisine. The students were great. Twelve of us piled into a van on Friday to embark from campus, and Jett treated us to an eclectic playlist over Bluetooth that kept everyone engaged in conversation. We endured some dicey weather before the Eisenhower Tunnel, though the trip down was otherwise quite pleasant. The students relished the vistas as we approached the city outskirts, remarking, “I forgot what tall buildings look like!”

We stayed in Cherry Creek, which provided convenient access to surrounding accommodations including Top Golf on Friday evening. Top Golf is a postmodern sporting adventure that is something like bowling meets laser tag on a massive scale, involving golf clubs. The entire group proved that available skill was not a prerequisite for a good time. Anna hit some amazing shots and nearly earned enough points to join the LPGA tour.

On Saturday, we traveled to Denver Inner City Parish on Mariposa Street to assist at their food pantry. Over four hours, we all engaged with about 500 people in need of food support. The parish staff was amazing, and it was wonderful to see the students’ hard work and cheerful interactions with those they served. Much of this demonstrated their competency in Spanish, which far surpassed my own, as they warmly greeted persons of all ages and offered genuine care.

We were fittingly exhausted in the afternoon, so following lunch at the Milk Market in LoDo, one group went with Samantha to the Cherry Creek Mall to rejuvenate, while another stayed at the hotel with me for quiet time. That evening, we enjoyed excellent Boba concoctions, miso, kimchi, fried rice, and sushi at a Korean and Japanese restaurant within walking distance of DU, and then proceeded over to Magness Arena to cheer on the Pioneers as they took on rival Colorado College. We were part of a record-breaking crowd of over 7,000, and the game lived up to the billing as DU came from behind to pull off an exciting 4-3 victory in the third period. Each SMS student went home with an armful of free souvenirs ranging from plush toys to key chains and sunglasses to free food and tote bags. I think someone even scored a free car wash at one of the gas stations near campus, so we have all the more reason to return for a rematch. On Sunday, we had a delightful brunch and a couple more hours of shopping before heading back up I70 to Steamboat. Students were polite, responsible, and certainly enjoyable. Samantha and I had a great time, and we would be happy to make the trip again in the future.