Monday, June 15, 2015

Washington Coast Hike - May 18 - 22, 2015

Cedar Creek Catch - May 19, 2015
Our May adventure started with a hike on Ebey's Landing. It was a beautiful day to catch a glimpse of the Salish Sea and Port Townsend, our late-morning destination. The group was able to slip in this hike due to the low tide closure of two early morning ferry runs out of Coupeville. It felt good to move for awhile before our long van trip to the coast.
Douglas Fir Shadows - Ebey's Landing - May 18, 2015
Looking back on this trip, I would summarize it as being "positive." Throughout the entire trek, I never heard a single complaint from students. This really made it a joy to be a part of. Students were willing to help each other by shouldering extra weight when times were tough for smaller members of the group. I would like to thank Emma, Mathew and Caden for their willingness to take on extra pack weight for the success of the whole. These actions perpetuated the positive feeling that encompassed the whole of this journey.
"Love" - Twigs and Stone on Log - Unknown Artist - Yellow Banks Beach - May 20, 2015 
At Cedar Creek, the group embraced their natural surroundings. Mathew had brought a small fishing pole that he shared with others. In twenty minutes, the group had landed five medium-sized trout that were hanging in the shadows of the logs a short distance up the creek. Later, the group carefully cleaned the catch near the mouth of the waterway. Laying the fillets on hot, flat stones in the campfire was a successful cooking method for this light-tasting fish. This first course was followed by steaming fresh mussels gathered from the sea side of the thumb-shaped rock that extended into the ocean in front of our campsite. I was extremely impressed with the willingness of students to enhance their trip with fresh seafood. The chefs were more than willing to share their bounty with those interested in trying their delicious offerings.
New Ultralight Tent at Cedar Creek - May 19, 2015
I noticed a large amount of litter on the tideline this trip. It is a stark contrast to the natural setting. For years, I have been searching for a glass fishing float. Most everything that I have seen on the Pacific beaches has been made out of plastic or Styrofoam. While working my way toward Sand Point, I had been looking for about an hour at the fresh debris from the last tide when... Eureka! I found one!
Small Glass Fishing Float - Sand Point - May 21, 2015
Walking through the rainforest on our last day, I spotted a slip of paper on the trail. I believe that a hiker had intentionally left it. I found it thought provoking enough to integrate it into a classroom discussion the following week.
Quote Found on Ozette Trail - May 22, 2015
After arriving at the parking lot, Charlie and I helped a couple from Camano Island jumpstart their vehicle. They had only been waiting for ten minutes. They were happy to get on their way.
Jumpstart with the District Van - May 22, 2015
I would like to thank Rocco Gianni, Erik Jokinen and Charles Snelling for giving their time and energy to this trip.


Nels Bergquist

- - - - -

Below is a letter to parents from Rocco Gianni, SWSD Director:

Dear Parents:

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your children. I chaperoned on the Adventure Education trip to the coast with these students: Fulton, Andrew, Cormac, Aidan, Zoe, Farriss, Kody, Emma G., and Max. I have had five surgeries in the last three years and the most recent was my right hip in March. Needless to say, my body is still in the recovery mode.

The wilderness is my spiritual and physical sanctuary. The Washington coast is the most rugged in the world.  Most people only see this on TV, the internet, or from someone's pictures who were there. We take kids out there to share this great wildness that only the wilderness can provide. By now they have shared their stories and pictures with you.

I want to tell you what kind of kids you raised. If you are like me, when another adult pays a compliment to you about your son or daughter you wonder if they are talking about the same child.

This trip was very important for me to answer the "Call of the Wild" that my wife and I always joke about. I will not single kids out for what they did for me and each other because I would surely miss something or someone. They can share that with you.

I told them that I was so tired and in pain that I wanted to quit a thousand times! They encouraged me when things did not go well. They saw some climbs that were very steep and offered to carry my pack (thanks). They helped get water in some tricky places that were usually no problem for me.  They coached me over some rough rocks. They had already been through them, set up camp, and came back to check up on me. The kids took turns staying back to keep me company. These kids made it impossible for me to quit because of their support.

May 21st was the day I became a senior citizen. Yes, they even threw me a wild party. There was chocolate cheesecake (Mountain House) provided by my friend Mr. J., a gift of a seal vertebra, a carving of one of my quotes, and many good wishes. It was one of the best birthday parties I ever had! Thank you.

I came back much stronger in mind, body, and soul. Thank you again for your kids.

Rocco J. Gianni
Director, SWSD

- - - - -

Student comments follow:

I think being able to be out there was a real gift to me because I think I found another part of me that I have never really seen or experienced. Taking this trip really impacted me in a positive way. You see, if I had not gone on this trip, I think I would have not have really seen Washington for what it really is.

I also enjoyed getting to sing as loud as I could, with the group joining in. Every time I think about us singing, it puts a smile on my face.

- Caden

Going on this trip was a very cool experience. It was a lot harder than I expected but it was very fun. I hope everyone eventually gets to go on this trip, and I do mean everyone.

- Marla
Reader, please identify the function of this hose. Leave a comment. - May 20, 2015
After this trip, I learned that we have so much here at home. We have instant purified water, better food than the food you live off of out there, an actual roof over my head, and a comfortable bed to sleep on.

This was definitely a challenge that I wanted. I got to see who I am and I got to connect with others the way that I wouldn't have been able to any other way. It was tough because there were times that I just was done, but that's when I'd boost myself up, I'd give myself that extra little bit of energy that I had left in me and I'd fight through it. I feel like this trip has made me more grateful for what I have handed to me.

- Emma L.

The hike will prove to be a challenge no matter where you are. This is the whole point of doing things like this, it's for the challenge. Any challenge is always hard at first.

The water
runs smooth
and sound.

A point
so distant
and high.

To get there
you must learn
to fly.

- Andrew
Matthew's Reflection Essay - Page 1
Matthew's Reflection Essay - Page 2
One important thing I learned was tying different knots. Some of these knots came in handy during the trip, some didn't. The knot I used the most I believe was called the bowline knot. I used it to tie one side of my rain cover to a tree when I couldn't find the stake.

- Clay

I really liked hanging out with new people and getting close to them. I usually only hang out with a few people but I'm nice to everyone and it was a good chance to see who people really are and have them know the real me. I feel like I got closer to my friends I had there.

- Zoe

I had an amazing time on the trip, and I was glad I didn't get homesick during the trip, but when I got home I got very emotional. I realized I have a very close family. We eat dinner together and watch a show together every day. All my emotions that I held inside on the coast came out when I got home and sat down with my family.

Names drawn in the sand.
Waiting for the waves to come.
I watch from my tree.

- Max
Whale Vertebra - South of Yellow Banks - May 20, 2015
Throughout the trip, people got walking sticks and I got one that I lost. We whittled points on them and used them on the hard terrain.

The trip was the hardest and greatest experience in my life so far. I learned a lot, I got a month's worth of P.E. exercise in one week. I hope to do something like this again.

- Aidan

Even though the toilets were bad and the terrain was tough, I loved everything about it - nature calling, fire crackling. The trip was so amazing and I will never forget this great journey. It was full of lessons, mistakes and regrets. This was a great learning experience. I learned how to fish. Also, you actually learn that our world is way more important than people explain how important it is. I also heard and saw wildlife - beautiful birds and many more creatures. I saw animal tracks like raccoon tracks. Everything about this trip was truly memorable and amazing.

- Mya

On this trip, I learned the value of getting out in the woods with friends and being disconnected from the world we are usually in. I learned to be used to the sound of the ocean. The smell of smoke became familiar, a part of me. The smell of the forest put me to sleep every night. The backpack became my best friend. I learned to enjoy the simple things life has to offer.

- Wes
Emma's Reflection Essay - Page 1
Emma's Reflection Essay - Page 2
Emma's Reflection Essay - Page 3
The fourth day, which was Mr. Gianni's birthday, would have to be the most enjoyable part of the journey. We made him a Native American life stick which had 65 pebbles for 65 years of his life. Our present to him completely was a freeze dried cake while Dodd and I gave him separate presents. I gave him a hand carved piece of wood which read "You frickin' yo-yo." Next, Dodd gave him a piece of vertebrae that he found.

My most fond memory was me being by myself at Yellow Banks. There was a rock that was carved into a chair looking over into the ocean. I probably sat out there for three hours just looking out at the tides.

- Fulton

This is stuff I see people do on T.V. and I did it in person. Climbing the rocks and just sitting there for minutes was like heaven on earth. The view was fantastic!

Overall, it was a blast to get away from technology and drama. On the ride home, my mom asked me, "Would you do this again?" I didn't even hesitate when my response was, "Heck yeah I would!"

- Kody

I learned a lot of new things on the Adventure Education trip, but the most important one I learned was never give up.

With a 30 - 40 pound bag on your shoulders, I learned it is better to keep a stable and steady pace, so you do not get tired in the first ten minutes. In the very beginning of the hike, that is what I did. I rushed and got tired (even though I kept going). But when we got to our campsite, I was so tired, I could barely set up the tent! The next day though, I made sure I kept an easy speed to make sure I didn't wipe out mid-way through.

- Cormac

One of the most important things I learned on this trip was the value of teamwork. We had to help each other pack, clean, cook, boulder, and survive together for five days out on the coast. In doing this, I found that you're only as strong as your weakest link so it makes sense to support them as best you can. If everyone supports each other all the time, think of all the great things you can do.

I was satisfied with how much I loved the trip. Who I was on the trek. How everyone came together. It was exactly what I was expecting.

- Farris

I had many, many lessons in self-reliance. On the trip you're really doing everything for yourself and if you forget something it's your fault and you just have to deal with it and make the best of your situation. I believe learning from your mistakes the hard way is the best way.

This trip was one of the best times I've had in my life. The experience has taught me so many things and I'm glad I got to share it with my friends. I'm extremely grateful that this opportunity was given to me. After this trip I've been drawn into backpacking and hiking. It's peaceful and just so enjoyable.

- Julian
Alder Decoration - May 20, 2015
I thought making up songs about what was around us was very funny. One of the best songs was "Born by the River" where we went down the line and everybody put in a phrase.

The Adventure Ed. trip was the most challenging but the most fun and unforgettable experiences I've had in a long time.

- Brent

Once we caught our seven trout, we brought them back and gutted them in the stream. Next, we all decided how we wanted to cook our fish. Everyone except me decided to cook theirs on a rock near the fire. I decided to put some nettles in and boil the fish in some water all together. The final result was a lot better than I anticipated, mine was a little bland but still tasted alright. The people who decided to make theirs by the fire were a little bit harder but had the smokey flavor. Overall, I was very pleased with the amount of fun and experience I got out of it.

- Graham

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

New Backpacks! Thanks, PTSA! - March 31, 2015

New REI Packs!
The Langley Middle School PTSA came through again this year for Adventure Education. My grant for two REI backpacks was approved - they arrived in the mail just the other day. Honestly, this program could not continue without their support. I'm looking forward to issuing these new packs to students for the upcoming Washington coast hike in May. These will replace two well-worn, first-generation backpacks from yesteryear. Thanks, PTSA!