On Friday, February 18, Oak Creek Ranch School’s adventure seeking boarding school students arrived at the beautiful Joshua Tree National Park for a three day Rock Climbing Trip. The group of eight students (Jennifer A., Kyle H., Tess K., Eric L., John P., Jose W., Dominic G. and Jack B.) were led by their Dean of Residential Life, Jim Graves, as well as Brannon G. and Megan E. with the AZ Climbing and Outdoor Adventure School.
After arriving at the park during the mid afternoon, the group had lunch and set up their camp. Lady luck seem to have taken the afternoon off that day. As soon as everyone was settled in, an unexpected storm rolled into the area late in the afternoon. It would take more than a storm to squelch the enthusiasm of these lively students. After exploring the area, the group ate a supper of rice, bean and beef burritos under a weather proof tarp. The night was extremely rainy and windy, easing up just before sunrise.
They awoke to a chilly Saturday morning but were pleasantly surprised by a visit from Tess’ step-mom Jennifer, who arrived carrying a much appreciated bag of delicious home-made cookies and tortellini. The group visited Cholla Gardens within the park, and while there trip leaders, Megan and Brennan demonstrated on each other how jumping cholla seek moisture and attach themselves to living things. After lunch Dominic, Jack, Jose and John were able to get a first set of climbs in while others helped to belay the climbing ropes. Getting a chance to climb and watching friends climbing increased everyone’s anticipation of what the next day would bring.
Supper on Saturday night was hot and steamy macaroni and cheese. The group experienced snow flurries Saturday night while having a campfire and the kids had fun throwing snowballs at each other.
On Sunday morning everyone awoke to about an inch of snow which quickly melted away by mid-morning. After breakfast all the students spent the day rock climbing and exploring nearby boulders. Four different ropes were set up with varying difficulty of climbs. All students tested their limits, over came self-doubt and excelled. It’s amazing how much a person can do with just a little guidance and encouragement.
After getting back to the camp site, trip leader Brannon cooked posoli casserole in his dutch oven for supper followed by a savored dessert of s’mores cooked over the campfire. Nothing like a sugar high to keep you warm before snuggling into a sleeping bag.
On Monday, the group awakened early to have breakfast, break camp and pack the van. Then they were off to do some more rock climbing. On this day Dominic was able to climb the most difficult climbing challenge of the weekend. Trip leaders Brannon and Megan commented that Dominic “is a real natural,” at rock climbing. Jennifer, Eric Jose, and Tess also climbed using another rope that was set next to the one Dominic used. Others once again went exploring and climbing boulders. After lunch the OCRS teens headed back to the campus, a little worn out from all the weekend’s activities but overall energized from all the accomplishments that were made during this fun filled weekend.
The kids really had a great time. Even the rain and the snow didn’t slow them down. Everyone pitched in to help and there wasn’t a complainer in the bunch, not even Dean Graves!