October 5, 2023

Campfires & Connections


The secondary campus kicked off the 2023-2024 school year with a series of adventurous and exciting grade-level camping trips designed for students to connect with nature and nurture lifelong friendships. 

Oakwood 7th graders set off on an unforgettable camping trip to Big Bear, where the students were immersed in the great outdoors and had the opportunity to engage in a variety of exciting activities. Middle School Principal, Erin Nowak shares her experiences on this adventure: “I am grateful for the beautiful weather in Big Bear that provided sunny days for our activities and clear nights for campfires and stargazing. In our final sharing circle of the trip on Friday morning, students were invited to share what they were taking away from this time on retreat. Although there were a range of answers, including enjoying first camping experiences for some and facing fears on the ropes course for others, undoubtedly the most shared response in the circle was gratitude for newfound connections and friendships.”

The 9th-grade students embarked on an epic trip to Santa Barbara. Activities included hiking, campfires, and wildlife observation. Social Studies Department Chair and trip chaperone, Teddy Varno shares that “the trip was a great opportunity for the kids to bond. It was also a great chance for us all to spend some time in nature. We camped beside the Santa Ynez River, hiked through the highlands of the Los Padres National Forest, watched a tarantula hawk take down its prey, and gazed at a progression of Starlink satellites passing overhead at our campfire. Pretty idyllic all around!”

Oakwood 11th graders set out on their annual canoeing expedition down the Russian River. Students basked in the scenic views, took refreshing swims in the river, and enjoyed the breathtaking waterfalls. Assistant High School Dean of Students, Ryan Rockmore describes the trip in more detail “The 11th graders started in Forestville, CA, and rowed down the Russian River, through Guerneville, and right past Jenner, where they hit the Pacific Ocean. They were led by guides from our partners at WOLF and, aside from canoeing, also did grade-bonding activities.” He adds that one of the best parts of the trip was the chance to disconnect from technology and tune in to their surroundings.