Friday, June 1, 2012

As the weather began to warm up this year, we finished the last week of Outdoor School. Our scholastic season has been successful in many regards. However, it has been most successful in that our students have left with a greater understanding of creation and its Great Creator.

Our first school this year was a local public school. They attended a day and a half Indian Camp. Since they are a secular institution we focused much more strongly on acquisition of skills and an awareness of the environment. Yet as we know, it is difficult to pay so much attention to God’s first book and not gain a sense that there is something larger than yourself. This group has confirmed that they would like to return but with double the numbers for this coming year. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

In the fall, we took on the regular cadence of teaching. Shannon Taylor, our newest teacher to the Camp Wawona Outdoor School spent many miles covering the countryside with Central California’s finest private schools. By the end of the fall season we had served Marin Montessori, Foster Moore, Templeton Hills, West Valley Christian School, Miramonte, Motherlode Adventist Academy, Pleasant Hill Adventist Academy, Oakhurst Mountain Home School, Wawona School, and Oakhurst Yosemite Elementary. It was a great season that saw great weather and a positive impact on our local community.

During the winter months things slowed down and planning began for the spring season. In the middle of April the first couple of schools began to come for our Outdoor Education session. We hit the ground running with long hours. Most weeks we begin at 7am and do not finish until 9pm with our teaching. The kids love the night hikes and beg us to go out into the star lit nights. Most of the students come from areas closer to the city with limited view of the night sky; seeing the constellations, the Milky Way band across the sky, and the occasional shooting star amazes them. For some, it is the first time to see the light streaking across the velvet shroud. By the end of the spring season, Armona SDA, Hollister SDA, Foothills of Northern California, VHM Christian, Dinuba SDA, FAA, Valley View, and Foothill Elementary had passed through Camp Wawona’s campus.

With everything finalized we turned our attention to summer camp and found there to be a vital relationship between the two programs. Outdoor School is a feeder program for Summer Camp and in turn, students arrive at Wawona’s doors with a profound understanding of the environment, a familiarized mindset of our goals, and a desire to learn more about the wilderness that surrounds them. With this amount of reinforcement, they again become a feeder for our Outdoor Education program.

God has blessed us through the 2011-2012 season. We are looking forward to the blessings that God has in store for us through the upcoming school year. I pray that Camp Wawona continues to fulfill its mission of connecting our young people to our natural environment resulting in an appreciation for God’s creation. Please help us expand our program here and reach even more schools.

In His Service,

Anthony Handal
Outdoor Education Director