"And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything." - William Shakespeare
I recently returned from a backpacking trip I took with my school (Middle Park High School) through the San Rafael Swell in Utah. Two staff members of the East Grand School District took eight teenagers out into the wilderness for five days (one can only deduce that they didn't have strong ties to their sanity!).
This trip, along with others such as river trips and hut trips are sponsored through a school program called Adventure Education. The Adventure Ed program seeks to promote outdoor education and provide opportunities for students to participate in such activities.
Our Canyoneering Trip is a Leadership Trip, meaning the students going on the trip organize a majority of the trip and facilitate it throughout the process. This trip's main focus was to "clean up" the canyon as there is a huge amount of litter down in the canyon (and since we were backpacking that added a lot of weight to be carried with us). It was our end of the year community service project one could say. We carried out a trash bag's worth of garbage and a car tire - yes really. It was truly amazing at how much litter we found down in the canyon and how the beauty in this world is being tainted by our laziness.
Garbage pick-up wasn't the only activity going on during this trip. We were also fortunate enough to have water testing materials donated to us from the Grand County Water Information Network to test the water in the river running through the canyon. We tested water at the opening of side canyons, in springs up side canyons and in mid-stream. At the end of the trip we compared our results of the different locations and it's amazing how much of an impact the surrounding environment has on the water.
Closing out the trip, we were met by our science teacher Sam Crane, who took us on a tour of the night sky. We learned about all the constellations, different galaxies, distance of stars and the orientation of the stars in the sky and how they change from season to season.
Not only did we get to enjoy the beauty of nature for 5 days, we also learned and got to experience a whole lot more than we ever would have sitting in a classroom. That is one of the most beautiful things about the Adventure Education program; it not only provides students with fun and memorable experiences, it also teaches students an array of things they couldn't learn anywhere else.
Some have suggested that with budget cuts and whatnot, the program could take a huge blow. Hopefully, with help and support from the community and participants in the school, we can keep this program alive and strong for many years to come.
Editor's note: According to school district officials, funding for the Adventure Education program is intact for the coming school year.