Country day Experiencial Ed Week Feedback


Jessie Gates, Staff Writer

From September 18-23, La Jolla Country Day students embarked on different experiential ed trips around the world to enjoy unique educational experiences in new places. A week full of activities and memories that last a lifetime, the different trips included Berlin, Boston College and Culture, Texas College and Culture, Philly College and Culture, History in the Holy City (Charleston, South Carolina,) Rebuilding New Orleans, Santa Cruz Island, Southwestern Utah, Santa Barbra (9th-grade trip), as well as some trips in San Diego including Day Hiking, Fishing and Finance, San Diego STEM, Mindfulness, and SCUBA. Students were able to choose which trip they wanted to go on, and after returning everyone had lots to share about their journeys. I attended the San Diego Day Hiking trip, so it was exciting for me to hear about my friends’ trips that left the area. To get a better idea of what went on during some of these excursions, I interviewed a few members of our community about their experiences. 

Lorenzo Paredez (‘25) spent a week camping and hiking in Southwestern Utah and had lots to say. Lorenzo described exploring caves, hiking on dirt paths, and going through a river that lead to a slot canyon. A day in his life in Utah consisted of waking up around 7:30 am to eat and enjoy an activity in nature like hiking. They would return to camp for dinner every night where they each were assigned jobs to help make dinner for everyone. They would then sleep in tents at the campground while enjoying being in the wilderness. When asked about his favorite part of the trip, he said “I loved crawling through the caves and climbing around while looking around at things people had written on the walls.” Along with the rest of the group, Lorenzo enjoyed getting to talk to the naturalists, the people that were with them who worked for the organization that was taking them places and organizing their days. His only complaint was that he wished there were showers, but he also felt as though was a one-of-a-kind experience and would recommend it to anyone interested in camping or hiking. He is most interested in doing a college and culture tour next year, possibly the tour of Boston. 

Another student, Chris Carrillo (‘25), spent his week on Santa Cruz Island camping and exploring. He described a typical day as waking up around 7:00 and eating breakfast around 7:30. After breakfast they would get their gear together to go kayaking and go through cool sea caves. After that, they would go back to the campsite to eat lunch and then go for a couple-hour hike. They would then hike back to the campsite to eat dinner and get in a circle to debrief the day. A group of people would walk to the dock after dinner where they would get service to call their parents or friends. They would end the night by sleeping in tents at their campsites. Chris most enjoyed kayaking through the sea caves and getting to snorkel for the first time. When asked about his feedback on the trip, he remarked that he wished he did less kayaking and had more free time to explore. He feels it was a one-time experience and recommended it to people who haven’t gone camping before and would want to try it. Next year, Chris is hoping to go on one of the college trips. 

Ria Loomba (‘25) was able to experience one of the college trips that the previous two students are anticipating next year. She spent her week In Philly touring different colleges and immersing herself in the culture. The group toured many different colleges and took a bus to different locations, also spending a day in Maryland and D.C. They would go out to dinner as a group every night and were given free time after to walk around and explore the streets of Philly. Ria most enjoyed walking around Philly and getting to see the culture. She was excited about getting to try a Philly cheesesteak for the first time. Her feedback for the trip was that she would have enjoyed spending more time at the colleges the group was actually interested in, and not looking at colleges the majority of the group was not interested in. When asked if she would do it again or recommend it to someone else, Ria replied “I would definitely consider doing it again, and I would recommend it to other students if they made some changes like more free time and time spent at colleges.” Ria is interested in doing the Boston College and Culture trip next year. 

My last interview was with one of the teachers on the San Diego Fishing and Finance trip, Dr. Novak. Dr. Novak described the trip as being a 50/50 split between introducing students to different types of fishing, like shore fishing and sport fishing, and also an opportunity to learn about the finance industry and personal wealth management and investment. They spent half their time fishing and the rest of their time meeting with local wealth managers around San Diego. Dr. Novak said her favorite thing about experiential ed is that it’s a great opportunity for teachers to learn something new as well as students. She enjoyed getting to fish for the first time in 20 years and connecting with different students and felt it was exciting to learn about students who are interested in going into finance as a profession. Dr. Novak said, “experiential education week traditionally is positive for teachers since it gives us the opportunity to spend time with faculty members outside our department.” Dr. Novak felt the coolest thing she got to do was see students not in typical friend groups collaborate aboard The Daily Double, the chartered boat they would take. Her main suggestion for the trip is for students to take the warning about sea sickness more seriously. Overall, “she thought it was a wonderful experience that gave her an opportunity to connect with Country Day families in the financial sector who provided valuable financial advice.” Dr. Novak shared that she would absolutely participate in this trip again and recommend it to other staff and students. Students were able to come away with a basic understanding of investment, the stock market, and fishing. They were given the ability to leave the week with the confidence to pursue two new hobbies. Next year, she would love to try Day Hiking in San Diego. 

Experiential ed gave students the opportunity to enjoy a week away from schoolwork to connect with the community in different environments. Overall, the reviews were positive, and people are looking forward to improved experiences in the coming years.

Cover photo credit: Jessie Gates