Instructor Spotlight:

Sam Morton

June, 2021

The Instructor Spotlight Series will be a collection of field notes that get published bi-monthly throughout the 2021 summer that shines a light on the unique personality of Telluride Academy. Telluride Academy shares these stories to better connect with alumni and inspire new friends to support our mission.





Instructor: Sam Morton

Year with the Academy: 1st

Hometown: Everywhere!

Moved to Telluride: June, 2020

Age: 23

Liam: So Sam! If you could describe yourself in 5 words, what would they be and why?”


Sam: So Liam! Five words: Simple gal with simple pleasures. I don’t need fancy toys or luxury vacations to enjoy life. Just an unexplored trail and a pair of running shoes. If my campers take only one lesson away from their Telluride Academy experience, I want them to learn that fun and passion can be found in the least expected, simplest of activities and places. No video game or expensive toy can replace the thrill of discovering a fuzzy caterpillar in the woods or rolling in the mud at Trout Lake!


Liam: “What is your instructor superpower? And how does it apply to your instructing during camp?”


Sam: My instructor superpower is having good tunes for any place, any situation. I believe music has the ability to set a positive tone within a group in seconds, whether it be a long road trip or freeze dance party. That music also has to meet the needs of its audience. The ability to read the mood of your group, to adapt, and to improvise on the spot, is as crucial in Telluride Academy instructing as it is in DJing. As Telluride Academy instructors, it is our job to know when our campers need ten minutes of meditation time or the freedom to run wild, muddy, and crazy. Recognizing when it is time to pivot activities or feed existing energy is key to a successful camp.


Liam: “Sam, you’re a pretty amazing runner and currently are training for an ultramarathon.  How has your love of running shaped your relationship with nature?


Sam: Gee thanks. I’m going to spin that question slightly and emphasize that it is my love for nature that shapes my love for ultrarunning. There truly is no better way to get into the backcountry, miles and miles from civilization - every sense in tune with your natural environment. The sport gives me the ultimate freedom to touch, smell, taste, and see everything on and off the trail, leaving behind the smallest trace that I passed through. Sometimes I just stop and stand in awe of a mountain vista, or bask in starlight on a cold, winter night. Those moments are honestly what inspire me to run faster and further every day. In short, running is my sanctuary.


Liam:  “Why do you work as an outdoor educator?”

Sam: When not working at Telluride Academy, my work and studies focus primarily on finding ways to mitigate climate change at the global scale. However, this work is very daunting and sometimes downright dispiriting. I keep circling back to the question: What will truly make an impact on the way society treats its environment and reduces its carbon footprint? Does it simply come down to how we educate future generations by fostering a love for the natural environment and thereby a responsibility to protect it? In which case, working hands-on with children through outdoor education is our best strategy.


This article is written by Liam Nigro: He finds purpose by working with others and being in nature. Beyond being an instructor with TA, Liam attends The Ohio State University studying Environment, Economy, Development, and Sustainability. In his free time, Liam enjoys any type of sport that gets him outside and his adrenaline running, making music with his friends, talking way too much about his love for coffee, and writing stories for Telluride Academy.