Behind The Scenes: Outdoor Education

By, Kiara Donaire

This past week has been amazing and fun. As an experienced cabin leader, I had the opportunity to go to Outdoor Education again because my friend, Geraldine Mack and I loved going back in April. Surprisingly, the fifth  grade teachers from our elementary school liked us as cabin leaders and asked us to go again.

Back in April, Geraldine and I were offered to go because they were short cabin leaders and getting the experience of being a cabin leader is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Although I would miss a week of school, I took the risk anyway. I wanted to experience what it feels like being a cabin leader and enjoying nature. From previous memory of when I was a fifth grader, I remember Outdoor Education being both tiring and incredible from all the hiking. When I got to be a cabin leader for the first time, I gained leadership and responsibility skills. I also learned more about nature and the environment.

(Photo Courtesy of Kiara Donaire)
(Photo Courtesy of Kiara Donaire)

Becoming a cabin leader for the first time, I never thought I could do it because I just wasn’t good at being super responsible and learning not to be so frustrated with certain kids. I had the chance to step out of my comfort zone. It was a week away from my family with no phone or internet to chat with people. My comfort zone was staying home on my phone or laptop or simply being out with my friends. The bus ride was about an hour long and I definitely think it was a fun bus ride because you chat with the other cabin leaders and the kids you may or may not have. When I got to Outdoor Education, all the cabin leaders were told to meet in the Arboretum. The Arboretum is a building where you spent an hour with the other cabin leaders and learn about the responsibility and the rules on being a cabin leader. It certainly was the most boring hour. As the hour or so was over, it was time to meet my co-cabin leader and the girls or boys that I would have.

This time, it was different because I was meeting kids from Sunset Ridge, Portola and John Muir. As we got to the small campfire, the cabin leaders got assigned to a co-cabin leader and were given a clipboard full of information that was very useful for the week. I was nervous to know who my co-cabin leader would be. It is something I don’t find super comforting because I barely knew anyone who is a cabin leader. As I got the clipboard, I got to meet my co-cabin leader, Mary. We simply got along, despite that she was a year younger and that she went to a different school. As we all gathered our stuff, we took group pictures with our village. Right after that, it was time to meet the girls I would bond with for the week. As we sang Sha-Boo-Ya, I gathered my girls and headed to the parking lot to get our suitcases. At this point, it was a very challenging moment because trying to carry your suitcases and dealing with 13 fifth  grade girls is just so annoying, but I quickly realized that I could do it.

(Photo Courtesy of Kiara Donaire)
(Photo Courtesy of Kiara Donaire)

As we got into our cabin, we quickly got settled. We had an hour to get to know each other and get comfortable. My co-cabin leader and I had to decide on who gets what bunk and who gets top bunk or bottom bunk. After thirty minutes of kids complaining about the bunk they got, they dealt with it and continued to get ready for their hike. While the kids were hiking, the cabin leaders had a meeting in the dining hall, where we got to talk to teachers about certain students and ask questions. We also had to do a worksheet that asks us questions on certain responsibilities. After awhile, it got boring but you get to know the other cabin leaders, the teachers, and also the stuff of Outdoor Education. When we were done meeting teachers, we all got into a circle and talked about campfire, which is an activity that happens the last night of Outdoor Education.

After a grueling meeting, I was ready to knockout and sleep but I had to meet my cabin back in the room and get them ready for dinner. Being the responsible one, it was hard to gather everyone to get ready. Unfortunately, we ended up late for dinner. Gladly enough, I got to sit with Geraldine during dinner and also meet the other kids that never got to meet. After dinner, my girls and I went back into the cabin and got ready for our night hike. The night hike was probably the worst night of my life, my cabin had walk in the woods without a flashlight and also, it was raining like crazy. We just had to build a bridge and get over it. As we got back from the night hike, we had to get ready for bed.

(Photo Courtesy of Kiara Donaire)
(Photo Courtesy of Kiara Donaire)
(Photo Courtesy of Kiara Donaire)
(Photo Courtesy of Kiara Donaire).

The next two days were the same routines. We woke up at 6:50 A.M. on Tuesday morning because we had breakfast set-up. Then after breakfast, we had a discovery hike, where we would meet Big Red and Dead Fred. Each night, the kids have a night activity. Our night activity for Tuesday night was Earth Dance. I got to learn many new dance from all other the world. On Wednesday after breakfast, we had lunch in the garden and walked in the rain. Since we hasn’t had a night off since Tuesday, Mary and I  got to take a night off while the kids were at Ocean Odyssey. Ocean Odyssey was a night activity, where the kids spend about an hour and a half in the Arboretum learning about the beaches and oceans around us. While the kids were at Ocean Odyssey, I got to stay in the office (which at Outdoor Education is called Gyro) and hang out with other cabin leaders who had their night off. It was great time to finally rest. I got time to call my parents and tell them about how my week was going.

(Photo Courtesy of Kiara Donaire)
(Photo Courtesy of Kiara Donaire)

Finally, it was the last full day of hiking and spending time with the kids. Today was Beach Day for my village. We got up, got ready, ate breakfast, then went and met up with the other cabins that were in my village. Since the buses were late, the naturalist, teachers, and kids decided to play some games. As the hour past, the bus was finally here! We all got into the bus and headed to our first stop, which was the marsh. As we got there, the village split up into our color groups and headed down to the marsh. With my color group, we got to use binoculars and look at the different birds that were in the water. We got to see egrets, coot, and some herons. It was  a beautiful sight to see, especially seeing them through binoculars. As we ended our time at the marsh, we headed back to the bus and went to pebble beach, where we would eat lunch and then head down to where the pebbles were.

By the end of our lunch, the village group all headed down to the pebbles and enjoyed playing in the pebbles. I didn’t really play in the pebbles, but instead talked with the other cabin leaders and just had a great chat with them. After about an hour playing with pebbles, it was time to go. Alpine, one of the naturalists, assigned me the job to check kids for pebbles because we weren’t allowed to take pebbles from the beach. As the kids came and left, it was finally time to go. We headed back to the camp and when we got back, the cabin leaders had their break time while the kids were at teacher time. For the next hour and a half, I had time to shower and then go to the meeting that all the cabin leaders had to attend. When the meeting was over, it was time to gather my girls and head back to the cabin because it was their shower time. Shower time was always the most dreadful time of all. It was hard to get 13 girls to shower as fast as they can in the amount of an hour. But after the hour was over, it was dinner time.

After dinner, I got to take my girls back to the cabin to get them ready for campfire. Campfire was the night activity that the whole camp got to enjoy. It was the last night at camp so we had to enjoy it by having a little performance. Each cabin was required to do a skit. My cabin, the Egrets, decided to do a skit about our week at Outdoor Education but also sing a little song at the end.

The last night, the cabin leaders had a meeting at 9 P.M. We got to sit in a circle and read comments from the naturalist we had for the week. It was fun to just relax for an hour and hear the feedback everyone got. That night wasn’t just about fun but to hear about the serious stuff about moving out tomorrow from the cabins.

Then next thing I knew it, it was Friday. It was time to say goodbye to my girls and all the other cabin leaders. For the kids, Outdoor Education isn’t something they’ll easily forget. It’s a lifelong memory. As the cabin leaders and naturalist lined up, we sang goodbye to the kids and some kids hugged us and even cried because we were leaving. That was it, it was the end of the week and I was going home.

(Photo Courtesy of Kiara Donaire)
(Photo Courtesy of Kiara Donaire)

Over all, the best part of being a cabin leader is learning to become a leader and also take responsibilities of your actions. I certainly loved going and coming back would be amazing.

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