Learning Excursions » 7th Grade: Yosemite Trip 2017

7th Grade: Yosemite Trip 2017

Yosemite National Park, NatureBridge Campus at Curry Village

April 3-7, 2017
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

Christine Bertko, the Science Director at SFB, Lilia Patriarca, 7th grade homeroom teacher, Jordan Heller, Science Teacher and the 7th grade parents at SFB collaborated with NatureBridge to offer a five day science and team-building program at Yosemite National Park. 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  team building experience for these emerging adolescents as they continue to grapple with the demands and opportunities of middle school.
The Rankin Trust generously contributed 90% 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.


Quote from a chaperone:
"I am [so proud] of the students of SFB.  There were some very challenging hikes in Yosemite that ALL of the students took on and conquered.  This was a wonderful experience that our kids (and I!) will remember forever.  The amount of information that we learned in such a limited amount of time was incredible.  We learned about leadership, teamwork and how we are all connected to each other and the environment.   Ranger Dave (or Danger Rave!) gave a speech about Bears for ALMOST TWO HOURS and our kids wanted MORE!  I bet that ALL of the 7th grade parents of SFB, if they were to ask their kids about bears, would receive a complete report about our states mascot.  During the course of the last 5 days, our kids learned about biology, botany, mathematics, history, zoology, the environment and much, much, MORE!
 I appreciate all that [the teachers] have done and I especially want all of the 7th grade parents to know that these past 5 days was time well spent.  My kid (all of our kids!) grew both intellectually and physically in a very short period of time.  This was an experience of a lifetime.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for your guidance and assistance.  This was truly an experience that my daughter and I will cherish forever."

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