The breathtaking vistas of Marin Headlands. The granite monoliths of Yosemite. The rainforests of coastal Washington. Each location offers a remarkable experience to visitors; an experience that the students of Saint Martin of Tours School have the opportunity to take advantage of as they progress through middle school. While the idea of a science based outdoor education trip is not new, including three separate and unique trips in the curriculum is uncommon. However, it is through these trips that the students build a greater respect for and deeper connection with God’s great creation–the Earth.
Students begin their travels in sixth grade with a trip up the peninsula to the Marin Headlands. Here they study the varying habitats and climates which exist within this National Recreation Area. They are challenged to work together and build positive teamwork skills as they conquer challenge hikes and adjust to being away from home. As seventh graders, students travel southward and explore the natural cathedral of Yosemite Valley.
Their previously formed class bonds are put to the test as they navigate switchbacks and waterfalls to reach the untouched wilderness, crafted by God’s own hands. The culmination of their outdoor education experience comes in eighth grade as the students board a plane and venture to northwestern Washington to immerse themselves in one of the most pristine National Parks, Olympic. This excursion enables students to see how much they have grown over their time in middle school, both mentally and physically, and learn about the watershed first hand. They spend time exploring snow-capped mountains, lush rainforests, and picturesque Lake Crescent while comparing and contrasting these new environments to those they previously visited.
While each trip offers a different experience, the goal of all three is the same. As the students venture farther from home and deeper into nature, they strengthen their relationships with each other and learn to understand their roles as environmental stewards while expanding their knowledge and deepening their understanding of new ecosystems through active participation.
Pope Francis has called for humanity to, “see the world through the eyes of God, the Creator.” Saint Martin of Tours School is providing students the opportunity to fully appreciate their world and become the stewards Pope Francis has called them all to be.