Outdoor Ed provides high school students with new opportunities

Fifth+graders+explore+the+wilderness+on+a+hike+during+their+Outdoor+Ed+trip.

Ella Duarte

Fifth graders explore the wilderness on a hike during their Outdoor Ed trip.

Every year, the Outdoor Education program provides fifth and sixth graders with the opportunity to leave home and spend five days at Jones Gulch, where they will develop leadership skills and learn how to become more capable. But what few people may not know is that this opportunity is open to highschoolers as well.

Any high school student living in San Mateo County has the option to join the elementary schoolers on their excursion into the wilderness.

For cabin leaders, responsibilities include watching after the campers in their cabin (around 20 students) night and day, making sure they get up and go to bed on time, and keeping them out of trouble.

“Throughout the day, we did different activities every day, so [it was] kind of a group effort to round up everyone and make sure everyone’s on time for meals and going to the beach, hikes, or meeting with the naturalist […] We were kind of with them 23/7, we get one hour off each day, pretty much,” said Ella Duarte, a sophomore.

Surprisingly, not all the aspects of supervising rowdy children all day are as glamorous as they might seem. For most of the volunteers, the most irritating part of their experience was the lack of sleep. 

“If the kids want to go to the bathroom [at night], they have to wake you up and ask. They also have to go with a partner, so if no one wants to go with them, you have to go with them, so you’re constantly woken up,” said Gia Elhihi, a junior.

But for most, the favorable aspects do outweigh the bad. According to the San Mateo County Office of Education (SMCOE) website, “Cabin leaders learn invaluable leadership skills while making new friends and exploring the natural environment.”

It is an excellent experience for students to grow with the younger kids while also learning to be assertive when necessary. Plus, younger kids can be very entertaining.

“We went to the beach one of the days. It was raining a lot, but it was pretty fun to see [the kids] picking up hermit crabs and stuff,” said Parker Gates, a sophomore.