Three days exploring in the land of the dinosaurs

The First Grade’s spring expedition has it all: fossils and dinosaurs, bouldering, camping, and hiking. As always, our Outdoor Ed expedition fosters development of the school’s five core values: character, respect, responsibility, community, and perseverance. Students deepen their understanding of these values on the two Outdoor Education trips they take each year throughout their journey at ACDS. 

Children have a real hiking challenge on their trip to the desert — an ambitious but achievable six-mile adventure that leaves them feeling so proud of themselves.

The children go hiking and bouldering in Colorado National Monument, a classic Western landscape near Grand Junction. Our first stop is the visitor’s center, where we are greeted by rangers and enjoy a slide show. Then it’s off to hunt for fossils (always a favorite) and set up camp. After dinner, we have a short sunset hike, campfire, and are soon snuggled in sleeping bags in tents or under the stars. On the second day, we are up early for a longer hike — six miles — with all kinds of learning activities and an evening with s’mores around the campfire. On our last morning, we pack up and stop for lunch on the way home. Adventurers return to their parents at the end of the school day.

Sample packing list: for the duffle

• warm hat for evening
• rain gear (waterproof pants AND jacket with hood)
• warm jacket
• shirt for hiking (not cotton; tech or smartwool-type fabrics are best)
• fleece pants for around camp
• fleece jacket or pullover
• shorts
• gloves or mittens
• underwear
• socks (2 pair)
• hiking shoes or trail runners (wear to the bus)
• 1 pair sneakers
• 1 pair Teva/Keen-type water sandals (no flip-flops)
• sleeping bag with waterproof stuff sack (not a compression sack; a heavy-duty garbage bag is easier for the children to stuff)
• non-inflatable sleeping pad (best are the ridged foam kind that don’t need to be inflated)
• toothbrush & travel-size toothpaste
• comb
• stuffed animal or doll
• headlamp or small flashlight (NO other electronics, please)

Sample packing list: for a small backpack

• ONE LUNCH
• snacks for THREE days; all other meals are provided*
• wide-mouthed water bottle (plastic and full)
• hat with visor (very important for the sun)
• sunglasses
• sunscreen
• lip protection with SPF

NO ELECTRONICS, please, except a headlamp: this means no cell phones, no iPods or iPads, games, etc. NO sunglasses or glasses with video capabilities, NO smart watches. Only regular or Rx sunglasses and regular watches. “Radio silence” and a chance to unplug are important aspects of the Outdoor Ed program. Photos from the trips will be posted shortly after return for parents and children to share.

Complete instructions and staffing lists arrive via ParentSquare shortly before each trip. At least one certified Wilderness First Responder accompanies every expedition. NOLS Risk Services of the National Outdoor Leadership School has recently completed a comprehensive analysis of policies and procedures for the Outdoor Education program at Aspen Country Day School. This program operates under special use permit from the USDA Forest Service, White River National Forest.