Our middle school staff and students returned from their 3-day fall camping trip to Portola Redwoods State Park. Sixth, seventh, and eighth graders enjoyed community building opportunities as well as a wide range of educational experiences focusing on problem-solving skills. They learned the Leave No Trace curriculum, first aid, wilderness survival, as well as how to identify harmful and helpful ecosystem species. This holistic approach was designed to develop both the social and academic needs of the middle schoolers, while continuing to foster the CACS core values of cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy and self-control (CARES) and the six domains of The Portrait of a Graduate.

Students were organized into work groups, rotating through cooking and cleaning jobs to support the rest of the camp community. Students were also given a choice of both academic and art workshops in advance that were led by our school staff. Options included cave pointing, cooking with foraged ingredients, nature photography, philosophy, theater, flora and fauna identification, and more. Additional community building activities included nature hikes, a talent show, roasting smores, and “singing for your supper.” Our tired campers returned exhausted but excited, and thrilled to continue the camping tradition of CACS in the spring.