Occasionally in the weekly bulletins, you may see references to a Bake Sale, Haunted House, Book Fair, or various other family events raising money for the ‘Web of Life Field School’ for the Upper Elementary… And while buying yourself a treat for the morning drive to work may be a nice thing to do for yourself, you may be wondering exactly what it is that you are supporting.
The Web of Life Field School, or WOLF Camp as it is affectionately called, is the science, social science, nature, and California history based camp attended by our Upper Elementary class for one week each spring. They provide educational experiences for ‘students and teachers to build respect, appreciation and stewardship within the web of life’. There are seven camp locations throughout Northern California, and the camps are visited on rotation. This April will be the 4th annual trip for the Marrone class- each year is tremendous fun and an excellent educational opportunity.
The first camp expedition was in 2008. The children visited Monte Toyon Camp near Aptos. Among the things they studied were coastal redwoods and tide pools. In 2009, they ventured to Camp Lodestar, in the Sierra foothills near Jackson. There they got a good heavy dose of California history, with a special focus on the Gold Rush. In 2010, they visited Camp Tuolumne Trails in Groveland, near Yosemite, where they immersed themselves in the geography and geology of that impressive area. This year, they will be adventuring to Camp Cazadero- back to the coast near Jenner, to focus on meadows and oak forests, among other things. Ever present at each location is the study of ‘Garbology’- producing zero waste during their week away. It’s no surprise that our conscientious students excel in this area.
At Web of Life Field School, they give each other camp names, like ‘Hawk’, and sleep in cabins, in bunks. They spend all day adventuring and take generous second helpings at dinner, unlike anything we ever see at home. They put on plays, sing songs, play pranks on each other, and form deeper social bonds. We recently asked a group of students to share with us their favorite memories from last year’s camp: Isabella Pina liked reading by flashlight during quiet time, and hiking in the snow. Jack Kaspari liked hiking in the snow best, too, and Jack Gumbiner especially liked it, as he had brought along snow boots and got to ‘blaze the trail’ for the group on their trek. Kayla Stephens most enjoyed a game they called ‘Bob the Weasel’ which they played in circle after dinner. A handkerchief dubbed Bob the Weasel was hidden on one of the students, and other students had to guess who had it. And finally, Zeke Wagner told the funny tale of the Ding Dong Ditch prank, in which a few of the boys spent a bit of one of their evenings knocking on the girls’ cabin door and running away. The students’ field journals are full of new and exciting knowledge when they return from camp each year, but they also tell numerous stories about the camp experience. They come back extra stinky and brimming over with joy- absolutely exhausted, but unable to stop smiling and talking about everything they have done and seen.
“In these days of standards based education, the naturalists at WOLF School remember that, along with the facts, there should also be joy in the scientific process. They instill in their students an appreciation for close observation and an understanding of global issues. Best of all they make us feel as if we’re the first ones to walk a creek or stand under a redwood; they make each experience new and exciting.” – a testimonial from their website, www.WolfSchool.org
The camps are quite expensive- averaging around $300 per student, and an additional $300 for optional parent chaperones. All fundraising is invented and arranged by the students, with parent committees called in for the larger projects such as the Haunted House and Book Fair. The total fundraising collected is split equally between all students wanting to attend, as decided by committee – last year each child got a $70 discount. You can then donate your ‘refund’ back to the cause- adding your portion to the pool for students requesting financial assistance- or keep the discount for yourself. Each year, every student who wants to attend the camp has been able to- because of your fundraising support, and the donations of the generous families in the Marrone classroom.