No Filter: 4th Annual Camp ASK takes Scholars Into the Wild for a Weekend

September 22, 2015

Culture, Opinion

Photos by ASK Academy Scholars /Slideshow by Mario Andreatta

By Jadah Stansfield

Last week, 49 freshman and sophomore scholars went on the annual scholar-manager camping trip. It is the fourth year of the tradition, every year  the school alternates between going to the Jemez Mountains and Chaco Canyon. 

 A large majority of my classmates were buzzing with excitement the week prior. We talked feverishly about which events we wanted, what we would pack and what teachers we hoped would be there. I struggled the night before to stuff the immense amount of items needed into my bags. Finally, after double checking the supply list twice, I was ready to go.

At 3 o’clock on Thursday, scholars going on the camping trip were let out of class early so we could get the trailer and several rental vans packed with our supplies. After everything was done we all went to our assigned driver for attendance. I was lucky enough to get one of my favorite teachers of all time, Mrs.Peterson.The drive to the campsite was fun, we stopped only once so we could get some lunch. To entertain ourselves the rest of the of the girls played “Lair” and “Scum,” two extremely fun card games that filled the car with laughter.

We arrived to the campsite a bit later than the rest of the scholars, because we were having so much fun with our games and conversations we completely missed our turn and just kept driving. When we finally arrived at our site, everyone was  almost done setting up so we only had to find our bags and tents. I walked around after that and explored the surrounding woods with my friends.

I sat outside stargazing with my friends, and then our 10 p.m. bedtime came around, so we parted ways and retired to our tents. It was about 7 a.m. in the morning when I got fed up with the rock that had wedged itself between my shoulders. Slowly, I got up and made my way sluggishly to the camp fire.

While scholars and managers sat around and chatted near the  early morning campfire, Twisters breakfast burritos were served. By 8:30, all scholars were to be dressed and ready for their first activity. Mr. Barbour briefed us on each activity and which manager would go with us. My first activity was the Coyote Call Trail, with Mrs.Peterson, Mrs. Hendrickson and Mrs.Pink.

It was a roughly 3.5 mile (there and back) hike through grassy woodland. I was amazed by all the beautiful views and plant life that the trail had to offer. Trailing behind the main group, me and a few other boys were picking  flowers (we were determined to give Mrs.Peterson the prettiest bouquet), and enjoying the technology-free environment.

After we got back to camp we had a chance to rest our aching feet and make some delicious sandwiches. A few of us even tried some MREs (military rations) donated by a parent. Shortly after lunch, Mr. Barbour called for a group meeting so we could get to our next activities. For the afternoon event, I was in Mr. Barbour’s group for the Jemez sightseeing tour. We did a short hike, two miles at most, across a few streams, to a small waterfall in the mountains, and hung out around there taking pictures. On our way back we stumbled across the YMCA campgrounds and got a tour from one of the counselors there.

The gas station was our next destination for a short snack break before my group went to the river to do some unplanned swimming. At first we were just admiring the river from above, but then some brave scholars decide to go down in the water and splash around fully clothed. We did this for about an hour before we were soaked to the bone and ready to head back.

Since we were running late for our last activity, the hot springs, we decided to forget about the bathing suits we left at camp and just go in our already wet clothes. The hot springs was probably my favorite part of the day. The hot water was exactly what my aching muscles needed.

As darkness began to fall, we headed back to camp for the final activity of the day, astronomy. I set out with my friends to find a nice place to watch the stars. The sky was so beautiful and clear you could even see parts of the Milky Way. Mr. DeGroot and Mr. Rader set up a telescope and pointed out different consolations in the sky.

On the last day of our trip, we all woke up early to pack up the trailers and vans and leave our campsite. We caravaned to the Bandelier National Monument, where we were able to choose which activity would be our last. I chose to go on The Falls Trail, a 3 mile round trip along the canyon walls, leading us to a sharp cliff overlooking a massive waterfall. I was shocked at the wildlife we saw on this particular hike – we came within several yards of a family of mule deer, two rattlesnakes, and several different types of frogs.

Exhausted and hot, we boarded the shuttle bus back to our cars and went home. Again, I rode with Peterson,  and our carload of girls sang along to various radio stations until we arrived at school and it was time for us to go our separate ways. This year was my first time going on the annual ASK Academy camping trip. It was a fun and exciting new experience that brought both students and managers closer together, and I cannot wait until next year, when we to Chaco Canyon. 

Click here to see photos from 2013 Jemez Camping Trip


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