7th Grade Class Trip to Yosemite!

Yosemite National Park, NatureBridge Campus at Curry Village
Feb 2-6, 2015,5 days, 4 nights

“We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole. In my children's memories, the adventures we've had together in nature will always exist.”
― Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

This program aligned with the 7th grade science standards and the Focus on Learning Objectives (life-long learners, compassionate children of god, and critical thinking) and offered our students an intensive
study of the ecology and geology of our Sierra Nevada Mountains. As students hiked through the various biomes of Yosemite, they explored and investigated the natural history of this amazingly diverse ecosystem. Students engaged in field research, continued their biomonitoring of macro invertebrates, study the geology of this valley and more. A service learning project was integrated into their studies. Furthermore, these and many more explorations provided a powerful teambuilding experience for these emerging adolescents as they continue to grapple with the demands and opportunities of middle school.

The Rankin Trust generously contributed 90% tuition of the tuition costs, 10% parents and fund raising (bake sales) to reduce the transportation cost. This is a quote from the Rankin Trust Application “Mr. and Mrs. Rankin believed in providing elementary school students with the opportunity to experience God’s natural beauty and wonder first hand. Their dedication to the children in our Archdiocese of San Francisco Catholic Schools led them to set aside funds for this purpose. Students and teachers interested in experiencing the natural beauty and wonder of our Bay Area are invited to apply for a scholarship enabling students to participate in various environmental or outdoor educational activities. The scholarship will provide 90% of the cost for each student. The remaining 10% of the cost of the activity will be the responsibility of the parent/guardian.”

*After the wake-up call and a hearty breakfast at Curry Village, students met their NatureBridge educators. Lunches were packed and the students in two groups set off on a day-long trek through the valley, climbing trails to the various falls, rock scrambling, cave exploration and more. In the process, they learned about the geology of the valley, the diverse environment they were exploring, the human history of the valley (especially the Ahwahneechee people who made the valley their home.) Team building exercises created a strong and cooperative community of learners and explorers. Students enjoyed the presence of the variety of wildlife in the valley (bobcats, coyote, squirrels, hawks and more). For many of these urban students, this close proximity to wildlife was a scary experience but, as the week went on, fear was replaced by awe and wonder at this natural, non-urban, environment. Students returned to base camp each evening eager to share their discoveries and experiences. They dined together, participated in ranger talks and retired to their cabins to prepare for the next day’s adventures.

Some student quotes:

“…After we ate our burritos, Justin (Nature Bridge Educator) sat on a rock …and started drawing three circles. He said the “inner circle” was our comfort zone. Justin also said, “the reason why I am allowing you guys to do these fun hikes like rock scrambles, is because I am trying to push you out of your comfort zone.” I thought about what he said and …it made me start to do things I usually don’t do at school and home to help me excel in life.” MB

“Today I went ice skating and I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. Then when I got on the ice I was on the wall until the teacher helped me learn…Then I was skating by myself…I felt really good for I finally did something…I thought I couldn’t do.” Tristan

“I saw beautiful views and many of my classmates helped me to the top. I learned that we all started from the bottom, so we should help each other reach the top of the falls. I saw a different side of my friends.” Marissa

“Yosemite was one of the best times…I have certain moments that make me miss Yosemite even more…I can’t forget my last day with my hiking group. We hiked up to Nevada Falls. I was running on excitement and adrenaline…and when we finally made it, thanks to the motivation of the pizza, it was the best feeling. What I took from this Yosemite trip is to cherish every single moment.” Kaitlyn

“..on the way back we stopped in an open field where we did an activity where we would walk alone on the trail and we would just look at the view and take in the beauty of Yosemite National Park! Honestly that was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. Alone + open field + waterfall + camera = happy Karla! I realized at that moment how grateful I am to have (my) teachers…and a great principal..to have made this trip possible for our class.” Karla

“This past week at Yosemite was one of the best of my life!!!” Jeremy

“This is also the first time I ever encountered a deer right in front of my face. I even saw a bear…I saw the beautiful sights of Yosemite for the first time in my entire life. I think of bringing my family to Yosemite.” Christian

“I love this field trip because people got to know each other closer and whenever we went on difficult hikes we always helped each other. And no one was left behind.” Uliana

“One of my favorite moments in Yosemite was when we climbed up to Pride Rock..we got to climb up steep rocks and then we got an amazing view…I grew closer with my classmates and with nature. I am very thankful to have gone on this trip and it has taught me many life lessons.” Aidan

“…I saw a coyote right in front of my tent, looking straight at me…it was so beautiful and so big.” Nicole

“I will be leaving Yosemite with an open mind. The hikes and friends that I made there are going to be missed. I hope that I can look back on our trip someday and think, “I will miss those times”. MB

“Today is the day we are leaving and I’m sad that we have to go home…During breakfast we were all talking about how we were gonna miss it here and the people we met and all the things we learned along the way.” Karla


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