Saturday, January 23, 2010

Weekend Getaway to the North Cascades

Last weekend, the IslandWood grads escaped to the North Cascades Institute (NCI) for the first part of an exchange program between the two organizations and one other, Wilderness Awareness School (WAS). NCI and WAS are two Washington organizations whose programs and philosophies are similar to those of IslandWood. Together, grad students and staff from all three organizations shared ideas and information about youth programs and the simple notion of getting kids to love nature.

The weekend began early on Saturday when the IslandWood grads met up and arranged to carpool for the ride up to NCI. With cars packed full of weekend necessities, the grads headed toward the ferry to begin an amazing scenic drive northward. A few hours later, we were welcomed by NCI grads and staff and soon met up with those from WAS. Our first day at NCI included guided hikes and exploration time, then informal mingling with drinks and appetizers, followed by a burrito dinner. That night, all three organizations teamed up for a friendly round of trivia and games, affording all of the grads and staff an opportunity to work together and meet new people.

On Sunday, we started the day with a group activity called Each One Teach One, in which groups of students move along the trails and stop along the way to learn from others. It's an educational activity well-known to IslandWood grad instructors, so it was interesting to participate in a different setting and with new people. Later in the day, we ventured out on hikes to Pyramid Lake, Ross Dam and Sourdough Mountain, just a few of the astounding sights around NCI. A few grads embarked on some free exploration and hiked up to a landing overlooking Diablo Lake, then continued up to a cascading waterfall. After a long afternoon of exploring the intricate, hidden corners of the North Cascades, we were all ready for a pizza dinner and campfire. By the glow of the fire, we exchanged music, stories and an amazingly clear view of the stars above.

The next morning we said our goodbyes to our hosts from NCI and our colleagues from WAS, and we began the journey back to IslandWood. The weekend was a great success, and we're looking forward to continuing the exchange when NCI and WAS visit IslandWood next month.
This week marks the start of another teaching week for Cohort D, and it promises to be an eventful one with IslandWood grads eager to implement all that we learned over the weekend.

Looking foward to what comes next!

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