Three Day Diary of the 6th Grade Trip to Pali Mountain

At the end of September, sixth grade students embarked on an overnight trip to Pali Mountain. For many eager and nervous students, it would be a new experience.


Day 1

As the students boarded the bus, they imagined what they could do, the things they could see. Many peered out the window, hoping to catch a last glimpse of their parents, waving from the sidewalk. Everyone was eager to see what awaited them. During the ride, most read or slept. Some girls started singing. 

As we neared the mountains, everyone cried out in delight. The bus came to a halt. The students poured out as they surveyed the mountains around them. The counselors introduced themselves and shared the three rules that would guide their time.

1. Respect others.

2. Respect your environment.

3. Respect yourself.

Once everyone had agreed to follow these few rules, we were led into our cabin groups. Famished students were treated to lunch of hamburgers and cheeseburgers. The counselors proposed a challenge. If all the students at their table drank two full glasses of water, the counselors would make the table a special drink at the drink fountain: swamp juice, a mixture of lemonade, blue Powerade, Sprite, and Fanta.

After lunch, the students split into their activity groups for hiking and the ropes course.

Groups three and four wait for the ropes course. (Farrell Heydorff)

Unfortunately for one group, lightning was spotted ten miles away from Pali, which meant they had to leave the ropes course. For the group on the hike, the group got lost on their way up but managed to find their way back in time for dinner. To everyone’s delight, dinner was served with dessert: gooey and sweet strawberry tarts!

Counselor Haeley’s cabin eats lunch. (Farrell Heydorff)

Sleeping in the cabins proved not to be as bad as expected, but not as good as it could have been either. Many complained of lost sleep due to a lumpy mattress. The cabins featured pristine wooden bunk beds and sturdy strong ladders. The bathrooms included large sinks where multiple students could brush their teeth and a locking door to the shower. Everyone agreed that the shower lines went smoothly. Sleeping in a cabin was fun and exciting. It was like an extended sleepover! Most people shared a cabin with their friends, so it was nice to be with them. Several campers stayed up late, whispering with the bunkmates.


Day 2

The next morning, everyone woke up early at 7:00am to start their day. After breakfast, it was time for activities. This time, groups one and two went to the ropes course with—luckily—no sight of lightning, while the other group did a day hike and learned some outdoor skills, like camping and hiking. Outdoor skills consisted of three activities and survival skills, like packing and preparing properly, cooking on a propane stove, and building a storm-worthy shelter.

Anna L. jumps off the ropes course pole. (Farrell Heydorff)

For the first challenge, groups had to work together to come up with a list of things to bring with them into the “wilderness.” For the second challenge, the groups had to split up to cook quesadillas on a propane stove. Whichever team made the nicest quesadilla got a tip that helped them on the third challenge. For the third challenge, the groups split in half to build rain-proof and tornado-proof shelters. To test this, the counselors poured water over the shelter, with a student inside. The counselors tested the shelters by throwing a rock at the shelter to see if it still stood.

A team builds a shelter. (Farrell Heydorff)

That night’s dinner included a birthday celebration for Charley. After dinner, everyone stayed at the dining hall for teacher time. Ms. T, the Lower School Art Teacher, brought out art supplies for everyone to draw. Some students played board games like Connect4, Checkers, and Where’s Waldo.

Students enjoy Teacher Time, teacher-lead and planned activities. (Farrell Heydorff)

After Teacher Time, all the activity groups experienced an astronomy lesson. Every lesson was different, and everyone enjoyed them. For example, some learned about the stars while others told legends. Some moved around to stargaze, while others observed the planets. Then, everyone left to go back to their cabins for bedtime.


Day 3

The next morning after breakfast, there was time for one last activity. One group learned about outdoor art and created something beautiful from nature. Someone made a bouquet, another a shelter. Somebody traced and outlined footprints, and others made a tiny village out of sticks. They were all beautiful and unique in their own way.

After a round of thanks and goodbyes, students boarded the bus with a sack lunch, now sad to leave but eager to return home. Samar K. said, “[The trip] pleasantly surprised me with the food and the cabins, but by the end I just wanted to go home.” Even though most students felt positively about the trip, there is, in the end, no place like home. 

The class poses for a group photo. (Farrell Heydorff)