By Rachel Goings
Seventh-grade students from Plumas Charter School traded in frosty mountain temperatures for the milder winter weather in Sonoma County when they spent a week at Westminster Woods adventure camp in January. Nestled in a forest of coastal redwoods, Westminster Woods hosts a variety of camps, group retreats and students year round. Their mission is to foster the development of character, community and science literacy in students through experiential outdoor education.
“I expected the camp to be boring and we would be doing nothing fun or exciting. When we got there, I could tell this was different than what I expected. The things we learned about were actually fun because of how the naturalist taught. I think if a school has a chance to go, they should take that opportunity,” said seventh-grader, Morgan J.
The students participated in different lessons throughout the multi-day and night trip. Areas of study included redwood forest ecology, stream and watershed ecology, marine science and tidepooling, conservation and restoration ecology and most popularly; the challenge course. Jewell V. from Indian Valley Academy said that the challenge course helped her overcome her fear of heights.
“It was a great learning experience that helped me expand my knowledge of the environment around me. I also learned new social skills as I felt more comfortable meeting new people and participating in activities with them,” said student, Liam S.
Eighteens kids from the Quincy learning center and IVA visited the 77-year-old camp. IVA teacher and chaperone, Shalyn Goss said that the seventh-graders had a lot of fun and that the counselors were great with the students. “My favorite part of the week was hanging out with our counselor, WitaKae on the cargo net,” said seventh-grader, Kenley N.
The Westminster Woods adventure is one of the experiences funded by the Outdoor Equity Grants Program, created through AB 209 and administered by California State Parks Office of Grants and Local Services. PCS was awarded $447,000 last spring. The program’s goal is to increase the ability of residents in underserved communities to participate in outdoor experiences at state and other public lands.
Seventh-grader Bella S. said that she was apprehensive about the camp until she settled in. “I started having the best time ever and the week went by so fast. Once it was time to leave, I didn’t want to! I think I cried for 40 minutes straight! I will never forget the camp and the people there. It was the best experience.”
Plumas Charter School operates learning centers in Quincy, Taylorsville and Chester. To learn more, visit www.plumascharterschool.org.