From August 29th to September 2nd of 2016, Chadwick School sophomores spent their last week of summer in a unique way. With course locations varying from the Golden Trout Wilderness, John Muir Wilderness, Dinkey Lakes, the San Gorgonio Wilderness, and the San Jacinto Wilderness, eight groups of students each experienced a different way of exploring and enjoying the outdoors.
“I personally just loved connecting to the wilderness through the beautiful sceneries,” said Hannah Harris. “On this trip specifically, I learned how to make trail pizzas and how to lock my food in a bear can so that I had no surprise visitors during the night!”
The outdoor program was first started in 1935 by Margaret Chadwick in order to ensure that students had “plenty of outdoor life.” Through these trips, Chadwick’s mission is to “challenge students in a unique learning environment to discover a sense of self, understand their community and explore and respect the natural world.”
“Third grade is the youngest grade we offer the trip to,” said Alan Hill, the director of the Outdoor Education Department. “We start off easy and gradually increase the difficulty level through longer hikes and camping, as well as the introduction of backpacking.”
Though there are definitely the pros of the trip, such as building a stronger relationship with nature or learning more about yourself, there are also potential drawbacks (depending on your personal preferences), such as using the outdoors as a restroom or not being able to shower for a week. Nonetheless, the lasting impacts of each voyage truly cannot be ignored.
“Whether it was backpacking both up and downhill for eight miles or surviving in the wild for a week, I got an amazing feeling of accomplishment and pride each time I challenged myself,” said Klark White. “By pushing myself out of my comfort zone and interacting in unthinkable ways with nature, I was able to learn how I react to different situations.”
In addition to setting up campsites and learning to efficiently pack a bag, most trips have a separate day reserved for the day hike and solo. The solo is a special opportunity for students escape from society’s troubles and enjoy a few hours of relaxing individual time.
“I would recommend Outdoor Ed to EVERY student,” said Harris. “Living in an age of technology, the connection to the natural world is more crucial than it ever was before. I believe that the natural environment provides a calmness that no other man-made structure can give.”