Last week the fifth grade students braved the wilds of the Olympic Peninsula on a coastal adventure. Students set up base camp at a beautiful recreation area near Port Angeles and groups took turns backpacking for one night in Olympic National Park. They explored tide pools, the Elwha River, and several coastal ecosystems. Students saw deer, bald eagles, seals, and salamanders.
They smelled skunk cabbage and tasted salal leaves, touched whale bones and witnessed the effects of dam removal. Students reflected nightly in their journals where they also completed mind and event maps, collaborative poems, and letters of gratitude and appreciation.
Upon returning to the classroom, they were ready to share stories and discover how each person experienced the trip in their own distinct way.
Everyone is so happy to be home, showered and dry, but it was a wonderful experience camping on the beautiful coast!
We choose to start each academic year with trips not because it’s easy, but because it is a worthy endeavor. By spending our first full week of school out on trips, we send a powerful message to ourselves, our students, and our community about what we value.
We value community – trips make it easy for the ‘new kid’ to become just another member of the class much more quickly than would otherwise be possible.
We value connection – trips provide opportunities for teachers and students alike to share new, often challenging experiences.
While teachers are often perceived as ‘experts,’ trips in particular provide opportunities for teachers to show that they, too, are also learners.
We value the development of a sense of place – throughout Middle School, our students explore and experience a wide variety of local environments and outdoor pursuits, from Mt. Rainier to the Salish Sea.
This fall, our fifth grade students explored Mt. Rainier, including visiting Paradise and the Grove of the Patriarchs.
Our sixth grade students learned to rock climb and went hiking in the North Cascades, our seventh grade students backpacked to a variety of alpine lakes, and eighth grade students enjoyed team building and sea kayaking at Camp Orkila!
Sarah Path, Director of Outdoor Education
The fifth grade class traveled across the Olympic Peninsula, visiting and learning about ecology, history, and Native American Culture during the Middle School Outdoor Education spring trip.
The group studied the Elwha River, the removal of its dams, and the impacts it had on the people and the environment.
They also headed to Neah Bay to begin coastal ecology and Makah tribal history studies. The group also had the chance to experience a coastal wilderness and amazing tide pooling on the class’s first overnight backpacking trip!