by Roger Herrera, translated by Molly Lou Freeman
After long and careful preparation for our second school camping trip (and first of our two annual 2016-17 trips), it was time to seek adventure. Our gear, food, transportation, schedule and contact list for Cabo Pulmo and, later, the Buena Fortuna Gardens were all ready. Returning to the incredibly beautiful Cabo Pulmo National Park always makes me feel incredible excitement and joy. The reef is magical and, without a doubt, one of the most amazing places in the paradise of Baja California Sur.
We camped in the park at El Arbolito Beach. The infrastructure at the beach--shade palapas, a boardwalk and large palapa, toilets, showers and all sorts of equipment at the disposal of campers--really made our stay more comfortable. Camping was easy and we enjoyed windless sunny weather for the first 1 ½ days, then the typical stiff Sea of Cortez breeze on the last two days of our trip. Setting up camp was an educational moment for our students. We learned to anchor our stakes in the sand, secure our tents in the wind by putting sand in the interior corners; and, following the intelligent suggestion of our student leader, Aliya, we made a food cache by storing all of our provisions out of the way of dogs or other animals: we set up a pantry in a separate food tent.
Our daily activities included math and science, journaling, cooking, a snorkel trip, sports and a meeting with the park keepers. Being in the water is one of my passions. It was really gratifying to share snorkelling, swimming, and paddle boarding with our students. In future, I’d like to promote more safe water activities with our students: group swimming techniques and proper snorkelling. I am already thinking about new water adventures with more safety and abilities to explore. Following our student menu suggestions, our food was fabulous. Students worked in teams. Our camp kitchen made cooking pretty simple. I loved cooking for our team of 17 people. We enjoyed spaghetti and meatballs, chilaquiles, chicken fajitas, pancakes, ceviche, stuffed potatoes (papas rellenas); what more could we ask?
A visit from one of the Cabo Pulmo Park guardians, Alica, was truly inspiring. We learned that 6 people are responsible for safety, education and conservation in the park. Integral to the success of the park is community volunteer efforts; we now know that our students can volunteer in future conservation efforts! It’s evident that getting involved in protecting our natural resources is key to environment conservation and that the responsibility depends upon all of us. We have much to learn in effort to protect the coastal paradise of Todos Santos, our town.
On the third day, we enjoyed a magnificent hike to Chopitos Beach, also known as Mermaid Beach. The trail is well marked with picture postcard views of mountains, cliffs, rock walls, sea-beaten granite into the round shape of “chopitos”. Students and teachers made land art cairns, responding to their environment by carefully balancing the beautiful rocks into towers. Also our hike, we climbed a small mountain and contemplated the vistas from its height. Drawing the landscape in a mapping activity with our science teacher, Tom, was a joy. I love watching our adorable students at work, carefully considering the landscape and seeking to capture its beauty.
We all enjoyed the last formal activity of our camping trip, a tour of Buena Fortuna gardens in Los Barriles. We wanted to learn more about sustainable agriculture and obtain seeds for our own organic garden. It’s amazing that this garden is the fruit of the work of two people, with over 3,000 species of plants growing on 5 hectares. We admired that the goal of the garden is preservation, education and a seed bank. Bravo!
We concluded our trip with a sunset ride down the road back to Todos Santos. The mountains, Sierra del Novillo, were red and purple; the van was quiet as we remembered and dreamed about our adventure. At The Sierra School, we cherish our visits to learn about outdoor leadership and stewardship; it’s even more rewarding to share connection with and respect of nature with our students and amazing teachers. Thank you everyone for your hard work and effort in making our camping trip possible. Until our next adventure, Roy
At The Sierra School of Todos Santos (BCS) we had a fabulous French-American cooking lesson making pumpkin and pecan pies for Thanksgiving. Thanks to Jake, Bellamy, Emiliano, Diego and Zephyr for such gourmet panache! True to our thinker selves, we also wrote about being thankful. That's because we write daily in our journals, responding to questions that make us think and reflect. We follow the International Baccalaureate learning standard and honor the IB Learner Profile. Sharing international culture is also a key piece of our program. We asked ourselves what are you thankful for? as our English Class, journal writing topic on November 24th 2016. Some of our students share their thinking here:
Ana-Sofia Gallardo Herreros: What does it mean to be thankful? To be thankful means to appreciate things and people. To feel gratitude and to recognize something good that has been given to you. What am I thankful for? I am thankful for having a family who cares about me. I am thankful for having friends with whom I can share meaningful moments, and with whom I can talk, play and laugh. I am thankful for being at The Sierra School ith my caring teachers. I am thankful when someone does or says something nice to me.
Aliya Flores: Being thankful is feeling thanks and being generous. I am thankful for many things. I'm thankful to be alive in this wonderful remote world. I'm thankful to have great friends who really care about me and I was joke around with me. I am thankful for my education and my school; The Sierra School of Todos Santos. I'm thankful for my family who allow me to be myself. I'm thankful for my life pets who keep me company, But mostly i'm thankful for you all--my friends and teachers--and to be in your life and to experience my experiences with you!
Sebastian Kar: What does it mean to be thankful? For me, being thankful is to be happy or grateful for what you have. It means to be surprised and appreciative when you get more than you had expected at first. I also think being thankful is that when someone helps you, you're appreciative about it and not expect more. What are you thankful for? Most importantly, I am thankful for my family. They support me in many ways. I am thankful my family is not very serious and can joke around about each other. I am also thankful for my community and The Sierra School of Todos Santos.
Victor Chavez: Being thankful means to feel gratitude. There are many things that we could be thankful for, such as our life, our family, friends, pets, and everything that may bring hope, love, happiness, and joy to our lives. First of all, I am sincerely thankful for being alive at this moment, in which I am able to express the other things for what I feel extremely gratitude in life....I may not always talk about what other people do in terms of their effort for having a better world. Here, I would like to say that I truly appreciate their fabulous contributions to the human condition. Thank you dear teachers, doctors, community servers, artists, engineers, ecologists, scientists, mathematicians, and everyone who is strongly dedicated for doing their best as well as sharing their knowledge with people in need. I would like to conclude by sharing that I feel blessed by everyone that brings love and happiness to my journey.
by Bellamy Kar, 7th grader
The Sierra School of Todos Santos (BCS) launched its second crowdfunding campaign in early November 2016 to to raise $9,000 to fund our two annual camping trips, to Cabo Pulmo National Park and to The Sierra de la Laguna State Park in November 2016 and February 2017. By American Thanksgiving, we had won! Crowfunding creates a crowd of interest, and the more people who support our online campaign, the more people want to support our effort. We had to meet our goal with ULULE (the largest European crowdfunding platform), otherwise we wouldn’t receive any pledges.
Everyone-teachers, students, community members-chipped in to send emails, reaching out to friends and family.
One evening during the campaign, we had a pizza party. We sent as many emails as possible, while eating pizza. Over that short amount of time, our goal jumped from 28% to a whopping 48% of our fundraising objective. A very special thanks to Fabrice for organizing the campaign, also to Molly Lou, Tom, Alex, Lauren, Zephyr and Margarita for bringing in funds. After lots of hard working days of outreach and hundreds of emails later, we reached our goal!
So we thank you all who donated so generously! We are happy to tell you that we had a blast in Cabo Pulmo: no-impact camping, learning about this amazing marine ecosystem restoration project, hiking, swimming with turtles, fish and more (an article is going to be published very soon)!
Dearest Believers, Thank you!
Students and teachers edited this blog since January of 2018.