February 21 – Live Interview with “Wired”

February 21, 2014
Lesson 3 – Super Hikers on the PCT

Group Photo with Wired

Group Photo with Wired

Last winter tHInK outsidE interviewed Sunshine and Monkey, 2 very young and intrepid record holders using an on-line Google Drive Document. This worked perfectly for long distance interviews that would normally not be possible. View photos, information, and the tHInK outsidE student interviews from last year on the web page “Super Hikers on the PCT“.

Great news! This year my good friend and hiking partner, Wired, agreed to visit with our class live via FaceTime. Wired has hiked the PCT 2011, the CDT 2013, and is hiking the Appalachian Trail this summer 2014 to receive her Triple Crown of Hiking. She is the writer of a very followed on-line trail journal  Walking with Wired.

Conducting an video interview was a brand new experience for me and I was a bit nervous about getting a good Internet connection. I wanted to make sure the experience with the kids would go smoothly. Wired agreed to test our equipment a few days ahead. I highly recommend this. She currently is a substitute teacher and lives in Portland, Oregon, so we needed a good connection from both of our schools.

After trying Skype and Google Video Chat the connection was poor at best, freezing and splotchy. Wired came through with the idea to test from her car at her school with FaceTime. It worked beautifully.

At the beginning of the class I gave the students a little bit of background about Wired using the Super Hikers on the PCT web page: her hikes, blog, and goal of getting the triple crown. The US map of the 3 long trails was very helpful.

Together in pairs students generated at least 3 questions they wanted to ask Wired. After the interview session, the students reflected aloud what they learned and what they thought. This was a rewarding, valuable, and very educational activity.

Huge thank you Wired for taking the time to share your experiences, hikes, and inspiring story.

The next 2 videos are just a few of the questions from our day.

Video #1 Student Generated Questions:
What was the hardest trail you have hiked?
Have you ever gotten injured while on the trail?
Do you get to see running lava?
What inspired you to start hiking?
Are there any poisonous animals or bugs on the trail?

Video #2 Student Generated Questions:
How did you get your trail name?
Have you seen any wild animals like mountain lions?
Have you ever lost the trail?
How long does it take you to get homesick?
How many miles do you hike in one day?

All resources for this lesson are on the “Super Hikers on the PCT” web page from the top menu.

Student On-line Trail Journal Entries from the Week:
“I was amazed by how many trails Wired has hiked.I also learned that it takes a lot of time and preparation to get ready to hike a trail like the PCT. I was thoroughly enticed when  Wired told us about how many times she has stumbled upon rattlesnakes. I would personally like to thank Wired for telling us about the PCT and sharing so much personal information about hiking with us. I will never forget Wired and all of her exciting adventures on the PCT and CDT. I was also surprised that the most frequent animal/reptile that you come in contact with on the trail are snakes…I do not know if I could hike these trails because I am TERRIFIED of snakes.”

“I was surprised that when somebody asked if she brought a fire arm and she said she didn’t bring one.Hope she gets the triple crown!:D.”

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February 14 – Get in Gear

February 14, 2014
Lesson 2 – Get in Gear

The "BIG 3" -Shelter, Sleeping, Pack

The “BIG 3” -Shelter, Sleeping, Pack

Today was my lucky day.

How often does a teacher have the opportunity to set-up backpacking gear in a classroom and do a show and tell pulling out and talking about every item in a backpack? This was my day.

Before the kids arrived in the classroom, I set up my solo tent, sleeping pad, and bag with my fully loaded backpack.  Also, I dressed in layered clothing appropriate for backpackers and day hikers from head to toe.

First, the students worked in pairs brainstorming what they thought thru-hikers  would pack in their backpacks using the Get in Gear worksheet. I then showed them all my gear focusing on safety and weight. It was fun listening to their observations and answering their questions.

I then did a complete demo of my clothing layering system that would work for a day hike with their parents for all kinds of weather. I explained about different materials and why certain things work together.  I also used Set Yourself Up for a Great Hike section on the Survival for Kids web page. Week after next the students will be learning about basic 10 Essentials to carry on a hike and how to use each item .

The students then got to work on a virtual purchase of  “The BIG 3″: Shelter, Backpack, and Sleeping system (sleeping bag and pad). Goal: $700.00 and under 10 pound limit. Loved, loved hearing their questions, comments, and concerns.  Be sure and view the excitement in the video below. All the info, links, and pics are on the Get in Gear web page. Be sure to check out my BIG backpack from 15 years ago!!!

To culminate this activity students gathered and compared gear choices, weight, cost, and  on-line ratings. Students soon connected that the lighter the gear, the higher the price tag. Smart kids. Some of the discussions were even very competitive and heated. They definitely took ownership of their virtual gear lists. 🙂

All resources for this lesson are on the “Get in Gear” web page from the top menu.
Printable Worksheet:

Fun on-line student journal entries from the week:
“I went to Red Rock Canyon and hiked a trail for a hour it was beautiful there! I love this class :D!!!”
“On Monday at Boy scouts I found out that my troop will be hiking and doing a clean up on the Pacific Crest Trail!!!!”

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The excitement of virtually making gear selections on-line!

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February 7 – New Class PCT Bound

Last winter I was fortunate to have created curriculum and taught eight, 1 hour lessons to students ranging from 6th to 8th grades focusing on The Pacific Crest Trail and all the skills it takes to stay safe and healthy. This is tHInK outsidE’s second year with 2 groups of students grades 5th and 6th. We will be meeting on Fridays for 10, 1 hour classes.

This year I am adding more videos and resources to each “Student” web page and will be adding printable lesson plans available for teachers. I am an avid hiker, but I have designed the tHInK outsidE website for use with teachers that just want to introduce their students to hiking long trails and loving the outdoors. The lessons can be taught by experienced hikers or folks that have never hiked before.

February 7, 2014
Lesson 1 – PCT Bound

We kicked off the class by discussing what makes an adventure. The kids then wrote down on post-its a BIG dream they personally have. They then stuck their dream on big PCT maps. The PCTA  donated to our class last year beautiful maps of the trail and I am reusing those maps. We are going to refer back to this dream in a later class. Any map of the trail would work for this activity.

Last year I made a fun and informative iMovie trailer to introduce the PCT. Before I played The Pacific Crest Trail short video, I asked the students to be ready to recall anything they learned from the 55 second clip. This was really a great way to get the kids excited and it was amazing how much they learned quickly.

Using the page PCT Bound I discussed facts and the geography of the trail. The students then paired up and used a post it to locate Tehachapi (where we live) and other areas along the trail they may have visited.

I then continued to use the web page to introduce hikers/trail names, trail angels, and hiker trail journals. This was a great time to introduce the class trail journal the students will all be writing in at home on their computers. For the on-line journal I created a Google Drive Document and shared the link that is editable by all. I ask the students to enter one entry a week. Here are the instructions I add to the top of the document:

Welcome to creating your online trail journal!
There is no right or wrong way to keep a journal, but the main theme of this journal is outdoor activities.
Writing Ideas:
Things you learned in this class
Outdoor experiences you want to share
Physical activities you are doing during the week
Outdoor accomplishment
Something you observed in nature
New discoveries
Photo or sketch
Field trips
To get started just scroll down to the last journal entry, write your real name or trail name and your thoughts.

Trail Journal Rules!
Do not change or erase other student’s journal entries.
Be kind with positive words.

Here is an example of one of the entries from the week:
“I thoroughly enjoyed this class and look forward to hiking part of the PTC and learning about the habitats and nature all around me. I am also excited to hear from people who have hiked this trail and listen to their experiences. Hopefully, Search and Rescue will come and teach us the skills to survive in the wilderness.”
“The capitals in tHInk outsidE spell “HIKE” to encourage us to go hike and enjoy the outdoors.”

We ended our time together by brainstorming questions in 3 categories they now have about hikers and the PCT: environmental, personal, and physical. This really sets them up for later learning. Students signed their names (some already had a trail name) for our  beginning terminus photo shoot. And much like the PCT Southern Terminus it was a super windy day!

All resources for this lesson are on the “PCT Bound” web page from Students in the top menu.

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Bring on the Class of 2014 tHInK outsidE

Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
~Regina Brett, from 45 Lesson Life Taught Me

So excited to share that tomorrow starts a new tHInK outsidE class. This year I will be teaching 10, 70 minute classes to 5th and 6th graders all about the PCT, hiking, getting outside, gear, survival, food, and map reading.  Students are divided up into 2 classes of 22. This makes it very manageable to have lots of computer and group activity time. This year I am planning for the class to Skype with an upcoming triple crowner (Wired), welcome our local Search and Rescue back as guest speakers, and visit with a very famous long distance hiker (fingers crossed on this one). It is going to be GREAT!

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March 22 – Go for the GORP | PCTA

March 22, 2013
Go for the GORP | PCTA – Trail Maintenance

Exciting stuff. Today being our last time together, we had a lot to accomplish. For homework this week, I asked the students to write encouraging, creative notes to future thru-hikers to leave at the Tehachapi trail head. I think the letters will bring a smile to weary hikers. Great job class! The students also signed a multiple copies of Halfmile’s topo map from the Cameron Ridge Section of the PCT to send as thank yous to very special people that helped us along this class journey. My plan is to adhere photos of the group to the maps.

My instruction started with information about the Pacific Crest Trail Association, its mission and highlights. I also shared more info on trail maintenance . The students were able to bring home the maps provided by the PCTA  and also were super excited to get a calendar. Thank you PCTA!

To culminate our class, we of course ended with the importance of food and nutrition on the trail. I focused on carbohydrates, protein, sugars, and hydration with suggested percentages of intake for each group. The kids listed healthy trail foods that fit into each category on worksheet Going for the GORP and planned for creating their own personal recipe for GORP. During last week’s class the students signed up for food items to bring today using GORP Sign-up.  This worked out perfectly for a beautiful, nutritious array of foods. After the kids assembled their personal GORP recipe in the zip lock they added a fun title for the mix.

Para-cord made me a para-cord bracelet (on my right wrist). Thanks Paracord!

Para-cord made me a para-cord bracelet (on my right wrist). Thanks Paracord!

At the end of class Paracord gave me my very own paracord bracelet that he made. I will love wearing it on the trail this summer on the Continental Divide Trail. A perfect ending to a perfect day.

Well our last class is over. To be honest, I am sad. I am going to miss sharing and being with this group of kids.

Now the big job begins for me. I will be assembling and writing detailed teacher lesson plans and extentions for each tHIkE outsidE lesson. My plan is to continue adding blog posts featuring new information as it is added to this site.

Thank you for reading and following us along. Please stay posted for future updates. Maybe even a few more hikes. 🙂

tHInK outsidE kids
and Christy “Rockin'” Rosander

Ending tHInK outsidE Terminus – Class 1

Ending tHInK outsidE Terminus - Class 2

Ending tHInK outsidE Terminus – Class 2

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March 19 – Pacific Crest Trail Hike

March 19, 2013
Pacific Crest Trail Hike

Our Group – Tehachapi-Willow Springs and Cameron Road

This was the last week scheduled for our class tHInK outsidE to meet.  We took advantage of perfect weather and hit the trail to hike the 6 mile Cameron Ridge Segment outside our town of Tehachapi. We shuttled cars at the beginning of the day to make it a one-way trip. The air was full of excitement and anticipation. Hikers were manned with day hiking essentials and Halfmile’s map from this section of the trail.

Before starting the hike, I showed the kids tools that are typically used by trail maintenance volunteers: a McLeod, pick, shovel, clippers, and hoe. As we hiked along the trail I talked about erosion,  trail design, and maintenance.

We also left fresh food, chips, red vines, and cokes for hikers that will be coming through during Spring break. tHInK outsidE students are now official Trail Angels!

The wind energy farms combined with other volunteers have upgraded this section of trail with new signs and a beautiful informational display at the trail head. I was pretty excited to see that a big portion of the display was devoted to “Leave No Trace Ethics“. The students connected with the info quickly, as we had studied the principles the week before. As we traveled along the trail our team picked up garbage to put into use the hiking ethics.

Typically this section is teaming with wildflowers and creatures around Mother’s Day, not so on our trip as it has been cold and snowy over the last few weeks. At each break we estimated where we were by using landmarks, compass, and our topographical maps. After a fun and well deserved lunch at the halfway point, it was all downhill. At the end of this hike there are numerous steep switchbacks. I snagged the opportunity to teach about not cutting switchbacks and the results of on the land and vegetation.

Upon completing the hike, each student received a PCT sticker provided by the Pacific Crest Trail Association.  Thank you PCTA!

I am proud of what the students have accomplished. My hope is that in the future a few of these budding hikers will continue to enjoy getting outside and be able to share what they have learned with others.

End of a Super Rewarding and Fun Hike

End of a Super Rewarding and Fun Hike


Click on Map to view GPS Track on Everytrail

Click on Map to view GPS Track on Everytrail

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March 15 – Leave No Trace

March 15, 2013
Leave No Trace Principles

Planning skit using PCTA Map

Planning skit using PCTA Map

First, I want to give a BIG shout out to the Pacific Crest Trail Association. Jack “Found” Haskel from the association was very generous to send a heavy box with PCT stickers, large PCT maps, and beautiful calendars for each student completing our PCT course. We have been using the materials during our class time. On our last day together students will be bringing the valuable materials home. This will be a great reference, motivation, and memory in the future from our time together.

I have really looked forward to sharing “The Seven Leave No Trace Principles” with our class. Last Friday with the help of Wandering the Wild’s blog entry “Leave No Trace“, we first discussed the basics of the hiking and outdoor ethics and why they are important. My personal favorite was the look of horror as I demonstrated how to poop in the woods by digging a proper hole and how to stash the used toilet paper. The majority of students connected with and had experienced the opposite of some of the principles while camping with their families.

Students were then divided into groups and given a scenario featuring one of the principles to act out for the class, what to do and what not to do. I provided possible props to choose from to be as creative and fun as possible. It was a great activity and very entertaining. I think they will be a good example for others and be able to educate and explain the principles to their families and friends.

At our conclusion, I shared the results from Sunshine’s and Monkey’s interviews. I cannot express how valuable this experience was for all of us. I think the group as a whole gained a real respect for what it takes to accomplish something BIG, how much is given up, how to persevere through discomforts, and finish no matter what.  Now that is priceless.

The students have continued to write on-line Trail Journals using a Google Document. Love this one. Just had to share:

So how was everyones snow day!!!! Mine was great but I really was bummed we didn’t have enrichment Friday! Can’t wait for Friday !!!! I’ve been hiking, camping, and I love being in the wilderness!!!! I am recently in 4-h and I am doing these projects chickens,horse,sheep,and shooting sports! This class is helping me with education and my skill in the wilderness I want to thank Mrs. Rosander for starting this class this is a class you have got to join!!!! This has been a paragraph from Gizmo see you Friday!!!!!

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Interview with Thru-Hiker Monkey

March 12, 2013
I’d like to welcome our second interviewee, Monkey. She is another dynamo young lady that is packed with energy, adventure, and determination. Enjoy this heart-warming and truly inspiring interview. Thank you Monkey for sharing with our class!

Monkey and Mama Bear on the PCT 2012

Nine-year-old Monkey and Mamma Bear at the PCT terminus

Nine-year-old Monkey and Mamma Bear at the PCT Terminus

From Heather and Sierra’s PCT Thru- Hike Journal

Heather aka “Mama Bear” and Sierra aka “Monkey” are a mother and daughter who successfully hiked the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada in 2012, starting in late April and finishing in Manning Park, British Columbia on September 23. We passed several unique milestones along the way: Sierra finished third grade, celebrated her 9th birthday, and started fourth grade all on the trail, becoming the youngest person on record to complete a continuous thru-hike of the offical PCT!

Pacific Crest Trail Association blog entry “Nine-year-old Monkey competes the PCT

Read about their PCT 2011 journey at Heather and Sierra’s PCT Thru Hike Journal

Interview with Monkey, 4th grade PCT record holder
~by the middle-school class “tHInK outsidE”

tHInK outsidE – What did you miss the most from home while on the trail?
Monkey – “I missed my dad, my cats, and sleeping in my own bed.”

tHInK outsidE – Did you ever feel lonely?
Monkey – “No, I was with my mom, and I enjoyed meeting the other hikers on the trail.”

tHInK outsidE – What did your friends think about you finishing the whole PCT?
Monkey – “My friends were really excited and amazed.”

tHInK outsidE – How was homeschooling while on the trail?
Monkey – “Homeschooling on the trail was fun, but some days it was hard to do school work on the trail because we were hiking so many miles. I worked on math every day at lunch, and some days I wished I could just relax like the other hikers. But I loved reading in the tent at night.”

tHInK outsidE – How does it feel to break a record?
Monkey – “It felt really incredible to have accomplished my goal.”

tHInK outsidE – Is there something really important that you forgot to pack?
Monkey – “I didn’t forget to pack anything, but I did lose two things on the trail. I lost my purple Snow Peak titanium mug near Wrightwood, California and my sunglasses a day or two before Crater Lake in Oregon.”

tHInK outsidE – Name the three most awesomest animals and wildlife you have seen on the PCT?
Monkey – “The three most awesome animals I saw on the PCT were baby bear cubs, silverback marmots (I called them “Grandpa marmots” because they had silver hair), and a baby rattlesnake.”

tHInK outsidE – What was the worst weather conditions along the trail? How did you get through it?
Monkey – “The worst weather conditions on the trail were during a three day storm in Washington. It rained and hailed throughout the night, thunder boomed, and lightning flashed across the sky. During the day we hiked through a cold mist, which made our teeth chatter at times.

I got through the storm because I was determined to hike the PCT, and a little weather could not mess up my plans. We also received some incredible trail magic during the storm, including hot food and drinks, candy bars, and other snacks.”

tHInK outsidE – What was your favorite part of the hike and your least favorite?
Monkey – “My favorite part of the hike was reaching Monument 78 at the border because I was really excited to have accomplished my goal. I also really enjoyed hiking through the mountains. One of my favorite days was when we hiked over Muir Pass and passed by the yellow-legged frogs at Wanda Lake and stopped to investigate the tadpoles and aquatic invertebrates at a pond near Evolution Lake.

My least favorite part of the hike was hiking on really hot days in the less scenic parts of the desert. One day it was so hot it melted the sour gummy worms in my mom’s pack! Of course, we laughed a lot about that, which made it fun.

tHInK outsidE – What hike do you want to do next?
Monkey – “I really want to hike the Continental Divide Trail and the Appalachian Trail to complete the Triple Crown. This summer I plan to hike the Colorado Trail with my mom. It is shorter than the others (about 480 miles), so we can hike it without taking time off from school.”

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Interview with Thru-Hiker Sunshine

March 12, 2013
Last Friday our tHInK outsidE class was canceled due to a school snow closure. This Friday the students will be learning about “Leave No Trace Principles” coupled with fun activities and next week we will be hiking a 6 mile section of the PCT.

A couple of weeks ago, the students gathered in groups to generate interview questions for 2 very famous record holding thru-hiker young ladies, Sunshine and Monkey. Below is the first interview with Sunshine. Enjoy the insightful answers and questions from a youth’s perspective, truly an inspiring experience. Thank you Sunshine for sharing.

Sunshine and Balls – PCT 2011 and Appalachian Trail 2012

Balls and Sunshine, age 10, at the Canadian border

Balls and Sunshine, age 10, at the Canadian border

Sunshine at the Northern Terminus of the AT

From Darn Tough Stuff Blog:

If you’re lucky enough to be in the mountains, then you’re lucky enough. This makes me the luckiest man alive, because on top of that, I spent the last 4 months in the mountains with my oldest daughter Sunshine! Sunshine is a very goal-driven young lady and plans to be the youngest Triple Crown Hiker at age 13. The triple crown of hiking is the Pacific Crest Trail (2,652 miles), the Appalachian Trail (2,184 miles), and the Continental Divide Trail at (3,100 miles). We already hiked the PCT in 2011 and just finished the AT this summer in 113 days.

Sunshine and Balls trail journal as they prepare and hike the Continental Divide Trail 2013

Interview with Sunshine, 7th grade thru-hiker
~by the middle-school class “tHInK outsidE”

tHInK outsidE – What was the most difficult weather conditions you have encountered?
Sunshine – “Wind, and rain. The wind is very difficult to deal with because sometimes it is stronger than me. For example when I am on a cliff and suddenly I am being pushed by very strong wind. Also sometimes the wind knocks down our tent. The rain is hard because it makes you cold and wet, which is not always pleasant. On the AT, the rain made the rocks slippery, so it was hard to walk on rocks.”

tHInK outsidE – How did you get your trail name?
Sunshine -“ I got my tail name when I was section hiking with my dad before my thru-hike. A fellow section hiker gave me the trail name because of my hair color and sunny disposition.”

tHInK outsidE – What was the hardest part of the journey?
Sunshine – “Everything was hard, except eating. I ate a lot while hiking and when we hitched into a trail town.
Leaving family and friends, hiking etc. Honestly I don’t know what is harder.”

tHInK outsidE – How did you feel when you were done with the PCT and AT?
Sunshine – “I was impressed with myself. I honestly don’t understand how I did it. When I am hiking, some things don’t seem real, it is so cool to have these opportunities. I just don’t understand, its just too cool! The miles always go so fast.”

tHInK outsidE – Which trail was the hardest you’ve completed?
Sunshine – “The PCT had more elevation gain and was further between resupply towns, so it was harder.”

tHInK outsidE – Did you listen to music?
Sunshine – “Yes, I LOVE to listen to music! Except when it is dark or early in the morning. We need to listen for animals(bears, snakes, mountain lions, etc.) so we do not surprise them, which would make them defensive, and could cause an attack. I enjoy listening to Taylor Swift and POP music. We also like to talk A LOT! We mostly listen to music when we are tired or going up steep hills.”

tHInK outsidE – Where did your motivation come from?
Sunshine – “My iPod and talking. I was very motivated to complete the challenge that I committed to.”

tHInK outsidE – What was your favorite trail food?
Sunshine – “Snickers and candy (Starbursts).”

tHInK outsidE – What is the weirdest trail name you have ever heard?
Sunshine – “Drop and Roll, she got her name because her coat caught on fire, and had to Drop and Roll. Everyone was yelling “DROP AND ROLL, DROP AND ROLL!!! at her.”

tHInK outsidE – Who were the funniest people you have met on both trails?
Sunshine “Provisions, was living out of a shelter, on the AT, and was mentally unstable, one could say CRAZY. He would run outside in his underwear, in a storm with a BIG stick, in the middle of the night to practice martial arts. Every day he would ask someone if he could borrow their iPod or iPhone and dance to it in Ballet. One night he put a borrowed iPod in his pants while dancing. There was one guy on the AT who carried a foam sword, for fun, and Provisions told him that he (Provisions) was training to be a ninja and right now he was trying to earn his broad sword. Provisions kept asking him to hit him with his foam sword. Also he told everyone that he was not an ordinary ninja. He was a sweeping ninja(as in sweeping the floor, with a broom, and swept the floor while dancing.) When I was trying to go to sleep he was using the end of the bunk I was using as a chin up bar. His face kept disappearing and reappearing over and over between the rungs on the ladder.”

tHInK outsidE – What made you want to do the Triple Crown?
Sunshine – “I have always wanted to hike the PCT. So when we completed the PCT we just had to hike the other two.”

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March 1 – Finding Your Way | Treasure Hunt

March 1, 2013
Finding Your Way Part 3 | Treasure Hunt

Groups worked together with compass in hand to find way points

Groups worked together with compass in hand to find way points

Today was a perfect day for an outdoor Treasure Hunt. Armed with a compass and  directions to marked way points, students worked in groups to complete 2 missions. At the end of their successful hunt, the reward of a job well-done was a hidden treasure. The students learned how to: measure distance with their feet, use a compass with a bearing and a landmark, find directions, and work together with a common goal. Big day!
Note: This lesson does take set-up ahead of time and works great in an open field. For this activity, the students used compasses from home. I would recommend having a set of alike compasses for students to use that worked properly to eliminate confusion.

We ended our day finalizing our interview questions for Monkey and Sunshine and watched a news clip featuring Swami, a record breaking hiker that has recently finished 12 Long Walks. Coming up next week, we will be learning about “Leave No Trace” principles.

Enjoy a sample of  a student’s online Trail Journal entry:

Ok so today I went outside and figured out how to make a fire on my own with just the outdoor elements and my flint and steel.  You know if you’re ever gonna go start a fire in fireplace or fire pit just get some lint from your laundry machine it works amazingly!!!!!

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