outdoor learning

The Class of 2017 culminates Westside years with final Outdoor Ed trip

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The Class of 2017 had a fun and successful final Westside School Outdoor Education trip! Students did a great job of helping to make the trip happen – starting with the planning process at school, and culminating with cooking meals, setting up camp and engaging in activities and discussions throughout the week.

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The first destination was the Hummocks Loop Trail, where students saw firsthand the recovery of the Toutle River valley since the 1980 eruption, and enjoyed beautiful views of Mt. St. Helens. While it was raining throughout the hike, everyone still enjoyed beautiful scenery, and appreciated the group of students who taught the rest of the group about the origin of the Hummocks.

There was time for great reflection, games and community time, as well as traditional s’mores around the campfire!

Third grade spends time in Nature’s Classroom

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Our third grade students enjoyed a spectacular trip to Nature Bridge at Olympic this past week, and came back with amazing stories, memories and photos!

Nature Bridge environmental science programs in Olympic National Park offer students an opportunity to learn hands-on science in an International Biosphere Reserve. Located on the shore of a glacially carved Lake Crescent, our students spent several days (albeit in less than ideal weather!) hiking Marymere Falls, collecting insects, fungi and lichen, canoeing on Lake Crescent, singing songs around the campfire with a Native American Storyteller, and learning about old growth forests and the impacts of Olympic National Park – just to name a few adventures!

Third grade teachers Jana and Signe commented the students were exceptionally positive, supportive of one another, and rallied even when the weather did not cooperate. Great job campers!

From Archaeological studies to sand in their toes: fifth grade spring trip!

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The fifth grade spring trip was to Neah Bay and the surrounding area. The group visited with elders from the Makah tribe who shared some of their heritage including the basics of cedar bark basket weaving, artifacts from the Ozette archaeological site and their whaling heritage. Other fifth grade experiences included the Elwha damn site, setting up tents, sand in their shoes, tide pooling, sea anemone, hermit crabs, and star fish, sand dollars, sea gulls, bald eagles, deer, brazen chipmunks, making and eating sandwiches, smores, fires on the beach, running, cartwheels, and walking down the trail, sharing, laughing, reflecting, and looking at sunsets. What a wonderful, memorable trip. Enjoy the beautiful photos!

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Fifth grade students explore Mt. Rainier National Park!

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The fifth grade class explored and studied the Nisqually watershed and related topics in geography during their fall trip last week. Students had the opportunity to engage in a service learning project by removing the invasive plant, Scotch Broom, from one of the Eatonville parks. Students camped for three nights, explored the mountain through short day hikes, and bonded as a group through fun games, initiatives, and shared adventures. This trip also served as an introduction to basic outdoor living skills and helped students gain an appreciation for the power and beauty of Mt. Rainier National Park!

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Eighth grade students venture to the San Juan Islands

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The eighth grade spent the week kayaking in the San Juan Islands. They began and ended the week with team building and high ropes challenges at Camp Orkila, and spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday sea kayaking from camp to nearby islands. Students built upon their existing outdoor skills as well as learned to navigate on water, gained kayaking expertise, prepared meals, and set up a new camp every night. Their shared adventures also facilitated community building, individual challenge and growth, and new sights around every bend. This was an exciting launch to a great eighth grade year!

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Fifth grade fall trip details

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Fifth grade families and students –

**UPDATE TO FIFTH GRADE TRIP INFORMATION**

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1vuKfu6iburakstZzAtWVp1a28

 

As you probably know, at Westside School we believe in the value of experiential education: hands-on projects, field trips, service learning, and outdoor experiences all provide opportunities for students to engage in authentic learning. Our curriculum intentionally incorporates several off-campus trips each year, including at least two multi-day adventures that integrate academic learning goals with personal and collaborative growth.

Our trips program provides distinct opportunities for students to take on new challenges, stretch their comfort zone, and develop outdoor skills. Through these adventures, students build confidence, strengthen class unity, practice social awareness and skills, and foster a deep appreciation for the wonders of the outdoors. We strive to help our students cultivate the necessary skills, preparation, and confidence to look forward to a lifetime of outdoor adventures.

Every semester, teachers (and hired guides) work hard to prepare and execute our trips – both in terms of the wilderness adventure components, as well as the curriculum of each trip. Trip curricula include academic, social/emotional, and community building activities, lessons, games, conversations, and reflections that help students to enhance and process their growth, as well as tie their learning back to what is happening at school.

Risk management is a critical component of wilderness trips, and we are constantly evaluating and building up our outdoor program.  I recently attended a Risk Management workshop put on by NOLS (the National Outdoor Leadership School), and came away very proud of the program we’ve built, but also with great ideas for how to continue building upon what we have in place. My work there fed directly into the ongoing development of our program, and I have immense confidence and faith in all our staff – particularly their ability to monitor and care for our students and make good decisions about how to handle any issues that arise.

Our trip staff always has the health and well-being of our students in mind. All of the adults on each trip have current first aid and CPR certifications, and hired guides and several Westside staff also have Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder certification.  When we participate in activities requiring additional expertise (e.g., rock climbing, river rafting, and sea kayaking), we hire outside organizations to guide and support us. In addition, all trips carry well-equipped first aid kits, and when in the backcountry we take satellite communication devices with us. While accidents and illnesses can and do happen on wilderness adventures, we do our very best to appropriately manage the risks of each trip by working with highly experienced guides, educating and empowering students to make responsible choices, and being well-prepared in terms of both equipment and training.

Attached, you will find two gear lists:

1) A trip-specific gear list for your fall trip, and

2) A general Master Gear List that provides a summary of items needed throughout Middle School

Please note it is NOT necessary to purchase all new gear for your child – many items can be borrowed, rented, and bought discounted or second hand. In addition, all students are welcome to utilize our “Middle School Gear Closet,” which currently includes a few sleeping bags and sleeping pads, many hiking boots (in common fifth grade sizes!,) and some long underwear, rain gear, and other clothing items. Feel free to ask me for specifics on what we have to lend, as well as for assistance or recommendations (and of course, new donations are always welcome!) Any family unable to obtain the necessary gear for school trips will be provided with suitable equipment by the school. Please contact me with any questions (sarahhs@westsideschool.org.)

Trips are a vital part of the middle school experience, and as such, we ask that families take trip dates into account when planning student absences from school.

A few important reminders:

  • Please be sure to turn in your child’s medical forms (in particular, the Medication Administration Form) no later than the August 22 due date
  • Students are asked to bring their complete, packed bags in to school on the Wednesday before their trip departs
  • Students must bring a sack lunch for the first day of each trip
  • Parents are asked to drop off their child’s medications (in original containers) with a designated trip leader prior to the trip (trip-specific details will be sent out prior to each trip)

Fifth grade middle school trip dates, 2014 – 2015

  • Tuesday – Friday, Sept 16 – 19: Camping and hiking in Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
    The fifth grade class will be exploring and studying the Nisqually watershed and related topics in geography. Students will be camping for three nights, exploring the Mountain through short day hikes, and bonding as a group through fun games, initiatives, and shared adventures. This trip also serves as in introduction to basic outdoor living skills as well as helping students gain an appreciation for the power and beauty of Mt. Rainier National Park.
  • Monday – Friday, May 4 – 8: Exploring the Olympic Peninsula
    The fifth grade class will travel across the Olympic Peninsula, visiting and learning about ecology, history, and Native American culture.  We will study the Elwha River and how it is recovering after dam removal, explore old growth forests, and head to Neah Bay for studies of coastal ecology and Makah history and culture.  The week includes with an overnight backpacking trip to a coastal beach (approximately three miles each way, depending on the trail), and tide pool exploration.

We’re looking forward to a year full of great adventures!

I will be in touch again in early August with more details about the fall trip. In the meantime, please feel free to get in touch about any questions or concerns you may have.

 

Sarah Harper-Smith, Middle School Outdoor Program Coordinator (sarahhs@westsideschool.org) & the Middle School Team

 

Fifth grade fall trip gear list

~~~ Please make sure everything is labeled with your name! ~~~

Synthetic materials vs. Cotton: Synthetics are man-made materials that wick moisture, like sweat or rain, away from your body and keep you warm and dry; wool has the same properties. Cotton is not a good fabric for the outdoors because when it gets wet, it takes a very long time to dry, and it can’t keep you warm while it is wet. Because of this, you should try wear synthetic (fleece, capilene, nylon, and polypropylene, 100% polyester…) or wool clothes on your trip.

CLOTHING

  • Unders (comfortable for moving and hiking in)
  • 2-3 pairs wool or synthetic hiking socks
  • 1 pair synthetic or wool long underwear (top & bottom)
  • 2 pairs pants (quick-drying with room for long underwear underneath – fleece, synthetic, etc)
  • 2 short sleeve synthetic shirts
  • 1 long sleeve synthetic shirts (for layering)
  • 1 fleece jacket or wool sweater
  • Waterproof rain coat and rain pants (vinyl/rubber ones are just fine)
  • Hiking boots (waterproof) or 2 pairs of shoes (in case the first pair gets soaked)
  • Synthetic gloves & hat (warm)
  • Optional: Sunglasses and/or hat (i.e., baseball cap)
  • Optional: Rain hat 

GEAR

  • Daypack (i.e., school backpack – packed with lunch, rain gear, extra warm layer, hat & gloves, and water bottle)
  • Duffel/Overnight bag (packed with clothes, toiletries, mess kit, etc)
  • Mess kit (sandwich-sized Tupperware container w/lid + fork, knife, spoon)
  • 2 one-liter water bottles (reusable plastic or metal bottle)
  • Sleeping pad (foam or thermarest style)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Headlamp or flashlight (w/new batteries)
  • Optional: Mug for hot drinks (plastic)
  • Optional: Camera
  • Optional: Watch

OTHER

  • Basic toiletries, towel, & washcloth (showers are available)
  • If required: Daily and/or emergency medications (amount needed for trip, give to Mosby or Preston before leaving school)
  • Optional: Book, journal, and/or sketchbook

ALWAYS PROHIBITED ITEMS

  • Electronics, including cell phones
    (camera & watch are ok)
  • Knives (other than plastic knife for eating)
  • Full-size pillows (travel pillows are ok)
  • Candy stashes (random searches conducted by local raccoons, ravens, and/or bears)

Middle School Trips – Master Gear List

→ Not all items will be needed for all trips – a trip-specific gear list will go out prior to each trip

→ Please make sure everything is labeled with your name!

→ Remember, less is more – choose to bring clothing and gear that is multi-purpose, so you are well-equipped and your bags aren’t too heavy!


Synthetic materials vs. Cotton
: Synthetics are man-made materials that wick moisture, like sweat or rain, away from your body and keep you warm and dry; wool has the same properties. Cotton is not a good fabric for the outdoors because when it gets wet, it takes a very long time to dry, and it can’t keep you warm while it is wet. Because of this, you should try wear synthetic (fleece, capilene, nylon, and polypropylene, 100% polyester…) or wool clothes on your trip.

CLOTHING

  • Unders (comfortable for moving in, sports bras recommended if needed)
  • Wool or synthetic hiking socks
  • Synthetic or wool long underwear (top & bottom)
  • Synthetic shorts (athletic shorts work well)
  • Pants (quick-drying with room for long underwear underneath are best)
  • Short sleeve synthetic shirts
  • Long sleeve synthetic shirts (for layering)
  • Fleece jacket or wool sweater
  • Waterproof rain coat and rain pants (vinyl/rubber ones are just fine, lightweight is preferable)
  • Synthetic gloves & hat
  • Hiking boots (broken in, waterproof)
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun hat (i.e., baseball cap or wide-brim hat)
  • 2-3 Bandanas
  • Optional: Rain hat
  • Optional: Watch 

GEAR

  • Daypack (i.e., school backpack – for carrying lunch, journal, extra layers, water bottles, etc.)
  • Backpacking backpack (i.e., 45-60L capacity* – capable of carrying clothes, toiletries, sleeping bag & group food/gear for miles on backcountry trails)
  • Mess kit (sandwich-sized Tupperware container w/lid & fork, knife, spoon)
  • 2-3 one-liter water bottles (reusable plastic or metal bottles – may bring hydration pack as extra)
  • Headlamp or flashlight (w/new batteries)
  • Sleeping pad (foam or Thermarest style)
  • Sleeping bag (synthetic mummy bag, rated to ~20°F)
  • Optional: Mug for hot drinks (plastic)
  • Optional: Camera
  • Optional: Watch

*The size of your backpacking backpack will depend on the size of your body. The friendly folks at any local outdoor store will be happy to help you find the right size, or get in touch with Sarah for additional information & resources

OTHER

  • Basic toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, etc)
  • If required: Daily and/or emergency medications (amount needed for the trip)
  • Optional: book, journal, sketchbook
  • Optional: Shower supplies (many trips have the possibility of a shower at least once during the week)

ALWAYS PROHIBITED ITEMS

  • All electronics, including cell phones
    (camera & watch are ok)
  • Knives (other than plastic knife for eating)
  • Full-size pillows (travel pillows are ok)
  • Candy stashes & fragrant lotion (random searches conducted by local raccoons, ravens, and/or bears)

Sixth grade fall trip details

Posted on Updated on

Sixth grade families and students –

**UPDATED INFORMATION ABOUT SIXTH GRADE TRIPS**

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1vuKfu6iburTm9fcU5EaHpXV0k

We hope you are having a great summer!learning, and outdoor experiences all provide opportunities for students to engage in authentic learning. Our curriculum intentionally incorporates several off-campus trips each year, including at least two multi-day adventures that integrate academic learning goals with personal and collaborative growth.

Our trips program provides distinct opportunities for students to take on new challenges, stretch their comfort zone, and develop outdoor skills. Through these adventures, students build confidence, strengthen class unity, practice social awareness and skills, and foster a deep appreciation for the wonders of the outdoors. We strive to help our students cultivate the necessary skills, preparation, and confidence to look forward to a lifetime of outdoor adventures.

Every semester, teachers (and hired guides) work hard to prepare and execute our trips – both in terms of the wilderness adventure components, as well as the curriculum of each trip. Trip curricula include academic, social/emotional, and community building activities, lessons, games, conversations, and reflections that help students to enhance and process their growth, as well as tie their learning back to what is happening at school.

Risk management is a critical component of wilderness trips, and we are constantly evaluating and building up our outdoor program. I recently attended a Risk Management workshop put on by NOLS (the National Outdoor Leadership School), and came away very proud of the program we’ve built, but also with great ideas for how to continue building upon what we have in place. My work there fed directly into the ongoing development of our program, and I have immense confidence and faith in all our staff – particularly their ability to monitor and care for our students and make good decisions about how to handle any issues that arise.

Our trip staff always has the health and well-being of our students in mind.  All of the adults on each trip have current first aid and CPR certifications, and hired guides and several Westside School staff also have Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder certification. When we participate in activities requiring additional expertise (e.g., rock climbing, river rafting, and sea kayaking), we hire outside organizations to guide and support us. In addition, all trips carry well-equipped first aid kits, and when in the backcountry we take satellite communication devices with us. While accidents and illnesses can and do happen on wilderness adventures, we do our very best to appropriately manage the risks of each trip by working with highly experienced guides, educating and empowering students to make responsible choices, and being well-prepared in terms of both equipment and training.

Below, you will find the gear list for the sixth grade fall trip.

Please note it is NOT necessary to purchase all new gear for your child – many items can be borrowed, rented, and bought discounted or second hand. In addition, all students are welcome to utilize our “Middle School Gear Closet,” which currently includes a few sleeping bags and sleeping pads, a backpacking backpack, many hiking boots, and some long underwear, rain gear, and other clothing items. Feel free to ask me for specifics on what we have to lend, as well as for assistance or recommendations (and of course, new donations are always welcome!) Any family unable to obtain the necessary gear for school trips will be provided with suitable equipment by the school. Please contact me with any questions (sarahhs@westsideschool.org.)

Trips are a vital part of the middle school experience, and as such, we ask that families take trip dates into account when planning student absences from school.

A few important reminders:

  • Please be sure to turn in your child’s medical forms (in particular, the Medication Administration Form) no later than the August 22 due date
  • Students are asked to bring their complete, packed bags in to school on the Wednesday before their trip departs
  • Students must bring a sack lunch for the first day of each trip
  • Parents are asked to drop off their child’s medications (in original containers) with a designated trip leader prior to the trip (trip-specific details will be sent out prior to each trip)

Sixth grade trip dates, 2014 – 2015

  • Monday – Friday, Sept 8 – 12: North Cascades Adventures
    The sixth grade will spend the first half of the week rock climbing in the Cascade Foothills near Mazama, WA, and then head up into the mountains for an overnight backpacking trip. Throughout the week, students will work on further developing outdoor living skills, learning to rock climb, and building community through games, discussions, and shared adventures.
  • Monday – Friday, May 4 – 8: Central Washington Geology and Ecology
    The sixth grade will spend the week exploring central Washington, with a focus on the geologic history of the area, tying in to our studies of geology and plate tectonics in fifth and sixth grade science. We will start the week with a visit to Dry Falls State Park, and move on to camping and rock climbing near Vantage, WA for the rest of the week. We’ll wrap up the week with a possible visit to a local wind farm and nearby Ginkgo Petrified Forest.

We’re looking forward to a year full of great adventures!

I will be in touch again in early August with more details about the fall trip. In the meantime, please feel free to get in touch about any questions or concerns you may have.

 Sarah Harper-Smith, Middle School Outdoor Program Coordinator (sarahhs@westsideschool.org) & the Middle School Team

 

Sixth grade fall trip gear list

~~~ Please make sure everything is labeled with your name! ~~~

Synthetic materials vs. Cotton: Synthetics are man-made materials that wick moisture, like sweat or rain, away from your body and keep you warm and dry; wool has the same properties. Cotton is not a good fabric for the outdoors because when it gets wet, it takes a very long time to dry, and it can’t keep you warm while it is wet. Because of this, you should try wear synthetic (fleece, capilene, nylon, and polypropylene, 100% polyester…) or wool clothes on your trip.

CLOTHING

  • Unders (comfortable for climbing and hiking in, sports bras recommended if needed)
  • 2-3 pairs wool or synthetic hiking socks (+ 2 pairs liner socks, optional)
  • 1 pair synthetic long underwear bottoms
  • 2 synthetic long underwear tops
  • 1-2 pairs synthetic shorts (athletic shorts work well)
  • 1-2 pairs pants (quick-drying with room for long underwear underneath)
  • 2 short sleeve synthetic shirts
  • 1 fleece jacket or wool sweater
  • Waterproof rain coat and rain pants (vinyl/rubber ones ok, lightweight is preferable)
  • Hiking boots (broken in, waterproof)
  • Sunglasses & hat (baseball cap or sun hat)
  • 2-3 Bandanas
  • Synthetic gloves and hat (warm)
  • Optional: Comfortable travel clothes (to wear while driving on Monday & Friday) 

GEAR

  • Daypack (i.e., school backpack – packed with lunch, rain gear, extra layer, hat & gloves, and water bottle)
  • Backpacking backpack (i.e., 45-60L capacity*, capable of carrying clothes, toiletries, sleeping bag + group food/gear for miles on backcountry trails)
  • Mess kit (sandwich-sized tupperware container w/lid + fork, knife, spoon)
  • 2 one-liter water bottles (reusable plastic or metal bottles – may bring hydration pack as extra)
  • Sleeping pad (foam or thermarest style)
  • Sleeping bag (synthetic mummy bag, rated to ~20°F)
  • Headlamp or flashlight (w/new batteries)
  • Optional: Mug for hot drinks (plastic)
  • Optional: Camera
  • Optional: Watch

*The size of your backpacking backpack will depend on the size of your body. The friendly folks at any local outdoor store will be happy to help you find the right size, or contact Sarah for resources & information.

OTHER

  • Basic toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, etc)
  • If required: Daily and/or emergency medications (amount needed for trip, turned in to WS trip staff before leaving school)
  • Optional: Book, journal, and/or sketchbook

ALWAYS PROHIBITED ITEMS

  • Electronics, including cell phones
    (camera & watch are ok)
  • Knives (other than plastic knife for eating)
  • Full-size pillows (travel pillows are ok)
  • Candy stashes (random searches conducted by local raccoons, ravens, and/or bears)