| Madeline Bachner

Logan School Explores Plants in Paonia!

Logan School Orchard “Do not try this at home.” The instructions were crystal clear, and meant to be taken with the utmost seriousness. Yet for some odd reason, we as a crowd could not help but chuckle collectively, as we sat under the setting sun watching our friends perform stunning break-dance moves such as “The Grinder.” It was the perfect way to end the perfect trip. A private talent show for our newly forged tent community complete with stand-up comedy routines, hilarious skits, “Barbie Girls”, and more.

Our trip began with a nearly 250 mile journey south and west to Paonia, CO. Two Cottonwood Institute Instructors, three staff members from the Logan School for Creative Learning, one chaperon extraordinaire, and 19 energetic 9 – 11 year olds, all snugly packed into two yellow buses and a mini-van. Along the way we found ourselves in the midst of a heavy snowstorm near Vail, CO, where we stopped for a quick name game and bathroom break. With the unfortunate weather behind us, we continued on down the road to Big B’s Delicious OrchardsLogan School Orchard in Paonia. After a brief chat about some goals for ourselves as individuals and a unit, we quickly moved to setting up the campsite we would be using for the next three nights. Using a fireline, and great communication we were able to expedite the process; leaving us some valuable time to just sit and be. While it may not seem like much, this exercise (known as a Sit Spot) was constantly brought up whenever we were talking about the highlights of our trip. It can be a transformative experience for youth, as they very seldom are provided with the instructions to just sit quietly with their eyes closed, and simply breathe deeply and focus on the smells, textures, tastes and sounds around them. It is truly ironic that such an experience could be so incredibly eye-opening.

Logan School Garden LinesFrom the minute we arrived at the Orchard and were able to meet with Jeff and his loveable pets (Lego and Minx), we knew we were in for a good time. Over the course of the next two days, Jeff graciously provided us with a tour of not only the orchards (where we learned about grafting, irrigation, companion planting and more), but of his cider processing and bottling facility as well. In return, we helped out around the orchard with various tasks such as removing chafe from seeds, laying hay, composting, weeding plots, and feeding chickens. These were instrumental service learning opportunities, as they provided a hands-on feel for all the hard work that goes into running an orchard. All the students’ efforts were rewarded with story time and the roasting of s’mores just before bed. There was just one catch: they had to make the fire themselves using only a flint, striker and cotton balls! Persistence was the name of the game as a light rain saturated most of our tinder, but all students were able to successfully light a cotton ball by the end of our time together.

The last full day we spent together was a designated adventure day. Just a stone’s throw down the road was  Crawford State Park, where we got to Logan School Cactussee mountain lion tracks, cacti, and solidified volcano cores. We even stopped for a beautiful waterside lunch, but not before snacking on some extra crunchy exoskeletons we found. Hooray for natural protein and explorative youth! Two hikes, several games of “Camo”, and one spectacular talent show later, we were all packing up to roll out the next morning. The next day as we reflected, it was clearly evident that we were all thankful for our experience. There were so many moments to be proud of, but none better captures the trip than this one memory from our final morning together. A group of students were trying to decide on names for a bug crawling across the breakfast table when another called out: “you realize we have a regular name and a nickname for a bug?” “We should respect all living beings” came a calm, fledgling voice from the opposite end of the table. If that doesn’t give you some hope for the future, then I don’t know if anything will.

Written by Michael Geddes, Cottonwood Institute Instructor

To see more images from this trip please visit our share site: https://loganschool.shutterfly.com/2015courses


Categories: Design Your Own Course, Logan School, Program News

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