On Wednesday, September 6th, all of Lee Vining High School traveled to Yosemite Valley for their annual place-based education trip. The goals of the trip were to get out of the classroom and learn in a hands-on,real-world setting, to learn more about our own backyard, and to have a fun, school-bonding trip.
The evening we arrived at our new home in the Yellow Pines Volunteer Campground, we set up four brand new 9-person tents, a few stoves, and lots of food and water. The school was lucky enough to get invited to have dinner at the house of Jeanne and Michael Adams, relatives of the famed photographer Ansel Adams. The food was delicious! When we returned back to camp, we played initiative games, such as an activity which involves running around in the dark and trying to solve a code created by the teachers.
On the first full day, we met with Yosemite Valley’s geologist, Greg Stock, and he taught us about the geological history of the valley, and what predictions scientists have for its future. He taught us many interesting facts, such as information about the huge aquifer underneath the valley. Dr. Stock also talked about rockfalls in the area, and their repercussions for visitors. After the geology walk, we interviewed visitors to the park to collect information for a performance task about traffic and parking issues in Yosemite National Park. In this activity, we learned lots of interesting things, such as the fact that many visitors hadn’t been able to find parking the previous day because it was so crowded on Labor Day Weekend. After lunch back at camp, we walked down to the river and all swam and waded in the cool water, looking up at the clear blue sky and towering granite cliffs. Later that day, we did a math activity where we found Fibonacci numbers in different plants. It was fascinating to see how math is part of even the natural world. After that, we did an orienteering activity with compasses which helped us learn how to find our way in the woods.
That night, we ate dinner at the Adams house again. They made us tri-tip steak and we all ate out on the deck or in the living room, talking, laughing, and watching the sunset over the valley. We really appreciated their hospitality. Back at camp, the ASB organized a whole-school game of jailbreak, which involved running and hiding in the forest with friends. After that, we told scary stories around the campfire. That night was certainly one to remember as we bonded over screaming and laughing together in the dark forest.
On the last day of our trip, Yosemite’s traffic specialist, Jim Donovan, gave us a presentation and answered our questions in the morning. We all took notes to contribute to our opinion essays that we wrote once we returned to school. After packing up camp, we hiked up to Yosemite Falls. The hike was beautiful but strenuous, so it was a good challenge for everyone. On the way home, we did an interesting ecological succession activity with Mrs. Liebersbach, and before we knew it, the trip was over.
In most of the school’s opinion, the best part of the trip was getting out and trying something new for a bit, because it turned out to be pretty fun. “My favorite part was just the Yosemite trip in general because it’s this fun learning experience where we get to leave school but still learn,” said Sophia McKee, a junior. In addition, the camping trip presented students with lots of fears and challenges to overcome. “I’m afraid of heights, so I’m glad I made it up to Yosemite Falls,” said Sayra Galindo, a senior.
Perhaps most importantly, the camping trip was an excellent way for students to bond together stronger than anything formed in the typical classroom. “I really enjoyed getting to know the freshmen because I hadn’t gotten to know them before now…” said McKee. “When we’d play games, it wasn’t just my group of friends. We were all one school.”