6th Graders Explore Yosemite
For me the highlight of each 6th grade trip to Yosemite is the contrast between two images: The excited but apprehensive smiles of the children in the cold October morning light, and their satisfied grins in the warm late afternoon sun, when we return a week later.
During the week of our trip, the children slept in a cabin with no adults, created a buddy system for visits to the bathroom, woke up at 6:30 am and, walked out of their cabins into one of the most stunning natural environments on the continent. They have independently used the time before breakfast to shower, dress, and prepare for their day
In the cafeteria they selected their own food and bussed their own tables. Daily at about 8:30, students, teachers, and chaperones met up with their NatureBridge educators, and split into trail groups that averaged 12 students plus one NatureBridge educator and one SDJA teacher. The days were spent hiking, scrambling over rocks, visiting water falls, learning about the geological processes that formed the Sierra Nevada mountain range and Yosemite Valley, writing, drawing, and completing team building challenges.
An important aspect of experiential education is reflection, so we asked students to write about what they enjoyed the most and what they learned about themselves. Almost all of them said their most favorite activity was “everything” and what they learned was “I can do things I didn’t know I could do.”
All in all it was a wonderful week for all of us.