"Climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." —John Muir
Fall was a busy time at the Bush Methow Campus. Middle School rock climbing trips, a fly-fishing adventure, the NWAIS risk-management conference and a Bush Family Open House rounded out a fantastic September and October in Mazama. Wildfires in the nearby North Cascade mountains did force us to relocate the Eighth grade and Senior retreats planned for the Methow in early September. Many programs, however, were able to take advantage of fantastic fall weather as cool, starry nights and brilliant autumn foliage set in.
September marked 2017’s last in a series of Bush Family Open Houses in Mazama. These Open Houses were a great opportunity for Bush families to spend time exploring the Methow Campus and the stunning wilderness that surrounds it. Families slept and ate in the main campus lodge; spent time hiking along the river in search of wildlife, pulling carrots in the campus garden and soaking in Methow sunshine and solitude. We look forward to future Open Houses in the new year.
After a few days of family fun, Middle School wilderness trips next capitalized on the great fall weather.
First, a group of climbers spent five days of challenge, stewardship, and adventure on the craggy granite of ‘Fun Rock’ in Mazama. Faculty Erik Gearhart, Michael Heald, Marilina Kim, and Jillian Nicks lead the crew. Students focused on teamwork as they learned roped climbing skills, safely belayed one another, and cooked group meals. With a program emphasis on service work, the team also helped with Methow Campus grounds maintenance and volunteered an afternoon with the Forest Service to steward local public lands. Students helped build a trail, moved massive boulders and reseeded disturbed areas with native seeds. With the climbing area and stewardship projects so close to the Methow Campus, students spent the week almost entirely car free!
The following week, a Middle School fly fishing elective led by Laura LeBlanc and Ben Wheeler used the Methow campus as their base camp. Students spent several days alongside local fly fishing guides exploring the Methow’s diverse watershed in search of trout. Along with the craft of fly fishing, students studied river ecology, aquatic macroinvertebrates, the life cycle of salmon, and local river conservation efforts. Equipped with waterproof fishing wader pants and boots, students got a very experiential look at the Methow’s local rivers. They even got to see chinook salmon spawning in the Methow River a few feet away.
Ending the season, outdoor program managers from independent schools across the Northwest met at the Methow Campus for a two-day NWAIS Risk Management Conference. The group of eighteen was comprised of faculty and staff from throughout Washington, Oregon and as far as Wyoming. Daily discussion focused on wilderness trip experiences, and the numerous details that these amazing leaders take into account—everything from international travel guidelines, to satellite backcountry communication and water filtration. It was an incredibly beneficial few days of collaboration and sharing. Everyone walked away inspired and in awe of the Bush School’s incredible Methow Campus.