By: Carlos Jauregui, Emily Cobar, and Brian Young – Greenhouse Program Assistant Instructors, Photos by Brian Young

The student team in action. Photo by BrianYoung

The student team in action.

The team had the opportunity to do some rock climbing, thanks to great instruction by Outward Bound. Photo by Brian Young

The team had the opportunity to do some rock climbing, thanks to great instruction by Outward Bound.

There was abundant desert wildlife to see each day of the trip, including this Rosy Boa. Photo by Brian Young

There was abundant desert wildlife to see each day of the trip, including this rosy boa.

Evenings during the trip were a time for reflection and sharing stories.

Evenings during the trip were a time for reflection and sharing stories.

What can someone gain from spending their spring break at Joshua Tree National Park? Los Angeles Audubon provided seven students from the Baldwin Hills Greenhouse Program and three staff members the opportunity to join Outward Bound, an organization that connects people with wilderness experiences, for four days and three nights in Joshua Tree National Park. Everyone gets something different from being outdoors, and that was true about this experience. It was the first time many of us spent a few days away from our family. Many of us had never been camping in the desert and some had never been camping at all. Another first experience for a lot of us was learning to rock climb. We were all pushed outside of our comfort zones in different ways. For some of us it may have been surviving without our cell phones, or it may have been relying on another person to lower you to safety after attempting to rock climb 40 to 50 feet above ground.

The students all experienced something new during this trip and were pushed to learn more about themselves and their abilities through the obstacles they faced. They were able to push fear aside to accomplish the tasks, whether it was reaching the top of the rock climb or sharing something about themselves with the rest of the group that may not have been so easy to share. They were very supportive of each other throughout the trip, cheering one another on as they climbed up the face of the rock and pushing the climbers to keep trying to maneuver their way to the top. The group was lot closer at the end of the trip and were a lot more confident in their abilities to reach their goals.

The staff experienced similar obstacles and also learned something new about themselves. Brian Young, a Greenhouse Program alumnus, served as a chaperone during the trip and shares his experience:

Before coming on the trips I was nervous about a lot of things. This was going to be my first time as a person of authority on an over night trip. I didn’t know how strict or how “buddy buddy” I should be with the students. While I knew that all of the students were pretty good when it came to listening and making good judgment calls, I was still worried about the risk of someone getting seriously injured or worse. It was not long after arriving in Joshua Tree that my anxiety began to fade. 

The most important thing I learned was how irrelevant the line between teacher and student, between adult and teenager really is when you are dangling more than 30ft above the ground in a climbing harness! One of the highlights of the trip was when a group of us decided to go scrambling up and over a very large rock formation. This was no easy task and was pretty difficult for me and some of the other students. We all pushed through together, suffering cuts and bruises and stinging hands. Even now, more than a week later, I am still touched by the amount of teamwork, patience, and support that was shown during our time on those rocks.

I think these kinds of trips are needed because it gives you a chance to get to know the students in a different setting. You really get to see a lot more of the students’ strengths, weaknesses, fears, skills, and quirks. And they get to learn just the same about you. All of this builds to a mutual sense of respect and understanding.

Emily Cobar, also a Greenhouse Program alumna, served as a chaperone as well:

Both staff and students are grateful for this opportunity to explore Joshua Tree National Park. Students grew as leaders - whether it was through facing their fears or encouraging and supporting one another. Trips to wilderness areas like Joshua Tree National Park may allow people from the city to connect with nature in a new way and gives them the opportunity to think about important environmental issues. Trips like this also help inner-city youth find a new passion, whether it's recreational (like rock climbing) or political (like taking action for environmental stewardship). We look forward to future opportunities for Baldwin Hills Greenhouse Program students.


PDF May/June 2016 Western Tanager Vol. 82 No. 5 (2,855KB)

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