Sixth grade students recently braved gale-force winds, dizzying heights, rattlesnakes, mosquitoes, dry heat, sprinklers going off in the middle of the night, and a hungry marmot during their spring rock-climbing trip to Vantage. They also developed a deeper sense of place and awe for nature as they watched the full moon rise, explored and imagined living in caves, sat silently and observed the landscape and climbed the basalt columns they have been studying in STEM.
Led by the intrepid team of Lauren, Mike, Michelle, and Glyn, the students experienced several exciting and challenging adventures in the Scablands of Central Washington. The first two days was spent visiting the expansive Dry Falls (over three miles wide), and the Lake Lenore Caves before heading off for three nights of camping in Vantage. The students had several “aha” moments as they observed the evidence of the Great Floods that shaped this vast landscape during the last Ice Age.
The trip was supported by a team of guides from the YMCA, who helped the students develop skills they learned on the fall trip to Mazama. For the trip leaders, their growth was awe-inspiring as they watched the students overcome their fears to scale 60 foot rock faces, and rappel off cliffs. Each evening, the trail groups debriefed the day in a courage circle. The students shared their successes, challenges and fears and even supported each other through each person’s individual adversity, whether it be a fear of heights or homesickness. The last night the group had a beautiful campfire under a star-filled sky. Students ate S’mores and celebrated the week.
The trip was rounded off with a visit to the Gingko Petrified Forest, during the drive home on Friday. The group arrived back at school tired, grubby, and totally exhilarated from their five day adventure!