The beautiful, winding, scenic, mountainous Highway 38 leading up to High Trails is very much a time portal into another world for our students.
To better understand why, I’d like to teach you a bit more about time travel using a story by Herbert George Wells, the author of War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, The Island of Dr. Moreau, and most notably The Time Machine.
The story begins with a Time Traveler struggling to convince a small group of well-educated individuals (doctors, writers, and psychologists) that he has discovered the key to traveling through time and space. To his initial dismay, the group laughs off his foolish ideas. The Time Traveler, however, refuses to sit back and accept rejection and instead proceeds to explain the sound science and mathematics behind why it works. We soon after find the group literally thrown back when the Time Traveler reveals his time machine prototype and successfully sends the machine into a different time period in front of their very eyes. Following the huge success of his prototype, he then uses a life-sized version to send himself whizzing into the future.
The remainder of the story is narrated by the Time Traveler as he recounts his tales of adventure after traveling into the year 802,701 A.D. While in a strange future world, he battles through several obstacles while keeping the reader well-informed along the way. In many ways, his experiences parallel those of our students as they travel through the Highway 38 portal to the exciting but difficult world of High Trails . The story is amazingly similar to the beginning, middle, and end of the High Trails (HT) student experience after they travel into the year HT A.D.
As he begins his story, the Time Traveler describes the wonderfully happy yet strange people that greet him as he is literally thrown into a new world. They greet him with food and prioritize his needs over theirs. They’re also seemingly stuck in this bubble of positivity and happiness as they run through their beautiful sunny home of the outdoors. This sounds an awful lot like the instructors on Day 1 of program at High Trails. Much like our students, he is trapped in this bubble, he’s kind of confused, but he’s not really complaining. Now, his real journey begins.
As time passes, the Time Traveler feels cautiously optimistic that “maybe there was no more violence or fear in this future world”.
While moving on through his adventure, he happily learns the ways of this new world and becomes more confident with how everything works. Later on, he discovers that the new world he is in has another less pleasant side that he hadn’t even thought about. The Time Traveler discovers that the new world he is in is not all smiles and laughter, and could actually be a bit more difficult than he had imagined. His struggles range from learning a new language to feeling more terror than he’s ever experienced before. When he first discovers the dark monsters of the future world, he instinctively runs to find a place of comfort. When he realizes that he can’t hide forever, he decides to take on the new experience despite his fears and successfully fights off the monsters using things that he had learned from his first failure (by the way, it turns out monsters are afraid of fire).
Now it’s beginning to sound more like a student experience at High Trails; fun and happiness coupled with challenges and growth.
Much like the Time Traveler, our students come in to High Trails ready to have the time of their lives. We more often than not hear students asking things like: “When are we doing archery?”, “When do we go to our cabins?”, “What’s for dinner?” We don’t often hear them asking things like: “When do I get to be homesick?”, “When will I get a splinter?”, “Will I get to experience what it’s like to not have technology?” Often, our students focus on the ups of the experience but forget how the downs are equally, if not more important, when it comes to their personal growth while at High Trails. In the end, the Time Traveler leaves his new world in the same way that we see most of our students as they depart from High Trails.
Toward the end of the journey, the Time Traveler wraps up his story by saying how sad he was to leave 802,701 A.D. and his new strangely happy friends, but how excited he was that he was able to share the story with his colleagues. Similar to him, High Trails students end their week with a bittersweet goodbye to the new strange world of High Trails as they head back into their big yellow time machine and travel back down the mountain with a book full of memories and a long story to tell.
At High Trails Outdoor Science School, we literally force our instructors to write about elementary outdoor education, teaching outside, learning outside, our dirty classroom (the forest…gosh), environmental science, outdoor science, and all other tree hugging student and kid loving things that keep us engaged, passionate, driven, loving our job, digging our life, and spreading the word to anyone whose attention we can hold for long enough to actually make it through reading this entire sentence. Whew…. www.dirtyclassroom.com