Experiential Learning and Overnight Trips at CDS Middle School

Learning happens in all kinds of places! Certainly in the classroom and also beyond our campus. Whether it’s strolling our neighborhoods, hiking the steep hills of San Francisco, exploring the tide pools at our beautiful beaches, or spending a few nights in the backcountry of the Sierras, CDS students learn about the world around them through a variety of outdoor education experiences.
Just in the last few weeks, all our middle school students have enjoyed several overnight adventures. In late September, our sixth graders stayed in the Portola Redwoods near Santa Cruz. In October, our fifth graders visited Half Moon Bay, our seventh graders explored the Lake Tahoe area, and our oldest students, the eighth graders, spent a week in Yosemite National Park and the High Sierras.
“Being in the outdoors, out of traditional classroom spaces, is a wonderful way for our students to bond with each other early in their school year,” says Middle School Director Chris Wachsmith. “These experiences are so meaningful for them, and a chance to learn new skills as well. Also, this time together provides them with important collaborative skills; like working as a team to put up your tent, for instance – or prioritizing group-think as a safety precaution.” All four of the middle school trips take place in the fall, typically when the weather is better and more suited for campouts.

Later in the school year, one final trip takes place in early May, when our eighth graders travel to Washington, DC. This capstone event has been a long-standing CDS tradition, which often culminates with the students meeting with a local representative and discussing an important social justice issue.

Check back here in the spring, when we will report about this cherished 8th grade class tradition, including day-to-day updates from the students themselves, as their educational experiences in the nation’s capital unfold.
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