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Photo by Monica Stert at Basecamp, 2019
Chirp. Chirp. Chirp. The cool night air is broken by the stridulating of crickets as they communicate across the open mesa next to the Rio Grande Gorge, just north of Taos, New Mexico. It is night 3 of a 10 day trek with Escuela Jr. High. KP is done and as our scattered entities begin to trickle towards campfire, an electrified cry comes from beside the com. One of the kids is looking East, where the full moon is beginning to rise over the mountains. The black silhouette of the mountains fade into the inky blue sky is being illuminated by the powerful glow emanating from the full moon. Though the moon itself has not yet peaked out above the mountains, the light is bright enough to fill the sky. Our group spreads out, watching in silent awe as the moon itself slowly works its way higher; rising for the night. The inky sky appears lighter now, the formerly bright stars appear dimmer, overpowered in the moonlight.
Growing up in the light pollution of a fairly large city many of use have never seen the moon rise, or watched the Milky Way slowly appear in the night sky. There are so many streetlights that the moon’s illumination seems almost non-existent. There are many who never get to experience these natural phenomenons ever in their lifetime. Therefore, it is exceptional, not only that kids are getting the chance to experience these life changing moments of natural beauty and exploration at such a young age, but that opportunities are starting to be built into some school curriculums. Experiential Education provides space for kids to be more creative, connect more with their natural environment, and channel their energy in positive ways. They are also able to learn through adversity and uncertainty as they are placed in unknown situations and forced to rely on the small community they are apart of. While the event recalled above is merely one experience, at the end of our Trek, every student visibly showed personal growth whether it be in a higher appreciation for nature and preserving our resources, decision making, or interpersonal relationships.
Ruby is one of our Field Educators this fall. She likes to hike with her dog, Boo, was born in Albuquerque and recently worked for a wilderness program in Minnesota.