“I took them on another night hike to the riverbed for stargazing, and as a group they decided that they wanted to just lie down on the rock and gravel and stare up at the night sky in silence,” said Michael, a Seventh Grade Science Teacher. “This was self-imposed, and they stayed there for nearly fifteen minutes in near silence without any prompts from me. That is the magic.”
Unique, unscripted, and “magical” moments like this were missing during the 2020-2021 academic year due to COVID-19, but from October 2–7, 2021, Bush community members returned to the school’s home away from home, the Methow Campus
, for a wilderness trip through the school’s Experiential Education Program.
Located in the Methow Valley in Mazama, Washington, the twenty-acre property provides students with immersive experiences that highlight the interdependence between community, environment, and self. This Middle School trip in particular was centered on public lands and rock climbing. Students had the chance to connect with, and learn more about, the Methow community through a day-long stewardship project while strengthening the bonds between one another and Bush faculty and staff.
“What we are achieving here is talking more freely, learning more about nature, (and) building friendships,” Avery M-L. '27 said. “Giving back is a good way to make the environment a better place to live.”
While the students enjoyed learning and expanding their knowledge of climbing, scaling the crags of Matrix and Fun Rock, they also immersed themselves in the community through a stewardship project—helping revegetate and restore the area of Fun Rock. This type of work is important and impactful for students, as previous Bush groups have had a hand in helping build the trails and area during prior trips. Three years ago, the group moved gravel and rock to help stabilize and harden the slopes.
“I feel like we do a lot of taking in our everyday lives,” Hadley D. ’26 said. “This actually gives us an opportunity (to give back).”
Added Edi R . ’27: “I think service is making the environment around you more welcoming to others and making it more welcoming to you.”
On the trip, students spent the day replanting in a disturbed area of Fun Rock that the forest service is working to restore. In total, the students planted twelve service and snow berries and posted a few restoration signs.
“[Service] can teach you to take care of the environment, take care of yourself, be more independent, and also take care of your peers and build stronger friendships,” Emilie R. ’27 said.
And after a year of many challenges, this trip became even more valuable in the learning, growing, and developing of friendships as students courageously returned or experienced the magic of the Methow Campus for the first time.
“We all want to live in a world where nature is all around us and can live freely, and the way to maintain an environment like that is by taking care of it and showing our appreciation by helping,” Emilie said.
-by Mary Albl, Communications Manager