The seventh and eighth grade class headed to Dark Canyon in late September for a five-day backpacking trip. Dark Canyon, considered by many to be one of Utah’s most beautiful and least visited canyon systems, was their home and classroom for five days of integrated field studies. During that time, the class explored the canyon’s rim for evidence of Anasazi and studied the geology of the 300 million year old limestone that formed the walls of their temporary home. Days were filled with gorgeous hikes, lessons on using the natural world in writing, navigation, stove use, and ecology. Nights were dedicated to journaling in the tents by headlamp, reading stories around a campfire, and stargazing.
According to trip leaders Emily and Andy Shoff and Cassie Bishop, some of the best lessons emerged from the singular moments. For example, when the students broke into small groups and navigated their way out of the canyon by headlamp, they learned first-hand skills like communication, conflict resolution, and pacing.
Associate Head of School Andy Shoff, who has led eight school trips down into Dark Canyon, says the canyon provides an opportunity for students to work together as a team to take care of their basic needs of food, water, shelter, and companionship. “But moreover, it is a spectacular canyon that every student should experience.”
By Emily Shoff