There was no shortage of fun activities to keep grade 6 students united and active during their recent class trip to the Santa Cruz Mountains. From kayaking to hiking, bird watching, completing a ropes course, and simply enjoying the area’s gorgeous weather and scenic beauty, there was something for everyone.
The group’s home base was Mt. Cross, a camping and retreat site located in the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains. With its ropes course, swimming pool, athletic field and close proximity to an abundance of tourist attractions, the site proved a perfect alternative to the originally planned trip to Yosemite National Park, which had been cancelled due to Hantavirus warnings.
The class trip was a mix of learning and fun, as highlighted by a visit to The Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, one of 28 such reserves established nationwide as field laboratories for scientific research and estuarine education.
The Elkhorn Reserve is administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and managed by the California Department of Fish and Game. Following the reserve visit was an excursion to nearby Moss Landing, a quaint, historic fishing village known for its shopping, fresh seafood, fine art studios, bird and whale watching.
Even before the field trip to the Santa Cruz Mountains anticipation had run high as many grade 6 students took a weeklong opportunity to wear hiking boots to school in place of their usual uniform shoes.
It was all part of “boot break-in” week, a traditional Harker offering to sixth graders for more than 20 years. During the week, held in October just before the field trip, grade 6 students could be seen walking around campus clad in their regular school outfits but wearing their boots.
With the knowledge that broken-in boots make for happy hikers, Cindy Ellis, middle school head, had invited the students to wear their hiking shoes to school, especially if they had brand new ones to break in. In doing so, the students created quite the fashion statements, complete with skirts and dresses worn with hiking boots.
According to Ellis, all that pre-boot wearing paid off during the trip. “I watched students soar through the trees as their hiking group manipulated the ropes and helped them achieve new heights!” she said. After a fun-filled day out and about, students ended their days back at Mt. Cross for delicious dinners followed by incredibly popular freshly made chocolate cake and brownies for dessert.
“The students really enjoyed the trip and all its adventures,” Ellis said, noting that all of Harker’s middle school classes go on weeklong outings during the fall. (Grade 7 visits national parks around the Southwest, and grade 8 travels to Washington, D.C.)