Learning Excursion Reflection: The Great Sand Dunes

Learning Excursion

Our Great Sand Dunes adventure was truly phenomenal!  The students were well behaved, and I was truly impressed with the depth of learning, sharing, playing, and building community.  What a blessing to be at a school that allows this type of learning!

Below are several quotes we shared, analyzed, and responded to the past few days. I hope you enjoy. – Lance
Nature Quotations
I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. ~John Muir (1838–1914)

What humbugs we are, who pretend to live for Beauty, and never see the Dawn! ~Logan Pearsall Smith

Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard. -Unknown

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. ~George Washington Carver

God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars. ~Author unknown, commonly attributed to Martin Luther

Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars… and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful. Everything is simply happy. Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance. Look at the flowers — for no reason. It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are. ~Osho

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~Khalil Gibran

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes. ~e.e. Cummings

In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia. ~Charles A. Lindbergh

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike. This natural beauty-hunger is made manifest in the little window-sill gardens of the poor, though perhaps only a geranium slip in a broken cup, as well as in the carefully tended rose and lily gardens of the rich, the thousands of spacious city parks and botanical gardens, and in our magnificent National parks — the Yellowstone, Yosemite, Sequoia, etc. — Nature’s sublime wonderlands, the admiration and joy of the world. ~John Muir

Student Responses:

Sand  Dunes The  towering  dunes.  The  flowing  stream.  The  loud,  fun  van  rides.  The  awesome  prank.  The  gas  station  stops.  The  falling  tent.  The  warm  fire  with the  star  lit  sky  above.  I’d  say  this  trip  was  one  to  remember.  Friends. Community.  Determination  and  perseverance.  Nature,  solitude,  peace. Sand  Dunes,  had  it  all  for  us.  This  trip  was  amazing.  The  tight  knit community  plus  the  ineffable,  serene  location  was  absolutely  unique  and fantastic.  There  was  so  much  that  we  saw  and  did  there,  but  getting  to  the top  of  high  dune  definitely  was  remarkable.  “Forget  not  that  the  Earth delights  to  feel  your  bare  feet  and  the  winds  long  to  play  with  your hair.”  (Khalil  Gibran)  At  the  top,  the  dunes  felt  as  if  they  went  on  forever. The  winds  would  play  with  us  and  I  realized  how  worth  it  is  to  persevere. The  experience  to  do  this  was  phenomenal  and  I  hope  to  go  to  the  Sand Dunes  again someday, hopefully  with such a great  group. – Megan

This trip was one of my favorites. Some things that I liked were the Sand Dunes. We hiked up the Sand Dune and went sand boarding and sledding that was so much fun. Also the van rides it was fun jamming to music and laughing with friends. We also took a hike up to the waterfall. The waterfall was enviable. While we were up there we had quiet time that was so powerful to me listening to the stream and talking with God. It was fun sitting around the campfire as a community playing games and laughing. Over all I loved this trip hanging out with friends, laughing and being a community.  – Alli

I enjoyed coming on this sand dunes trip for many reasons, you may ask me “Luke what was your favorite part of the sand dunes trip” and you would probably hear an answer like sand boarding. That was my favorite part of the trip, but there was more to it than just that. God spoke to me in many ways on this trip, and seeing his beauty out in nature was incredible. That’s what I enjoyed about our sand dunes excursion. – Luke

I thought that this trip was the best school trip I have ever been on so far. One of my favorite parts were just camping and being with my friends, my other favorite part was playing a prank on the girls and Mr. Fink. I also thought being out in nature helped me reflect, and come to know god better. The sand dunes were amazing as well, the only bad part was that it was super windy and sand got in my eyes, but other than that my trip was amazing. – JP

I had such a fun week in the Sand Dunes. One of my favorite parts was the waterfall, the crashing water splashing on my face. The waterfall was so serene. I like how I can get closer to my friends and class. When we went to the Dunes I felt so accomplished because I went to the highest dune. It was also so fun when I went sand sledding. I crashed but that’s the fun of it. – Lauren

My favorite part about the camping trip, was running around in the forest. I felt like that it was so peaceful at night in there. Just the laughter and nature brings a whole new camping to the trip. It’s like the trees soaked up my worries and stress, and the grass cleaned it off. Stars seemed to be having a great time, shooting across the sky. Nothing that is man built could beat this appearance. No remotes to see this on Tv, no pictures from the past, man built resources that showed it, could still not beat the creation. – Jack

Nature is filling to the soul. The trip to the Sand Dunes was an amazing experience. Camping is refreshing and is an escape from everyday life and business. Hiking to the Sand Dunes was accomplishing. It was hard but the view was worth it it look like a painting of the museum. My favorite part of these trips are the nights. Pranking each other, talking, and getting to know each other are an essential part of these trips and will be memories that I will look back at. These trips help us become one with nature and each other. – Isabella

The trip we took to the sand dunes was remarkable in many different ways. I really enjoyed being out in nature, away from the classroom, experiencing the wilderness. I will never forget those moments in the outdoors, whether it was the view from the highest sand dune, or the canyon waterfall. The moments spent in community were also extremely memorable. I loved being with my friends sandboarding, in a tree, or even in the van ride. It is so awesome that we have the opportunity in our school to go on this amazing trip. Everything we did was super awesome, the Garden of the Gods was gorgeous, the sand dunes were wicked cool, the camping was fun, and the gator farm was epic. Overall it was an incredible learning experience. -Joseph

On this camping trip I felt in nature. There were only a few things we did inside. I felt like God was right with me the whole entire time. My two favorite parts of camping were the sand dunes and the waterfall hike. Reaching the highest sand dune was such a success for me. Seeing almost everything in Colorado was breath taking. I absolutely loved the waterfall hike. When I first walked in the cave and saw it I was amazed! The way the teachers put this trip together was great! I know I got closer to God in nature!  (Samantha )

One of the things that I really liked was the hike up to the waterfall and stream.I really enjoyed the walk up there for me that was the perfect amount of walking. When we got up there you could be one with nature. one thing that stuck out to me was when I got to talk to some of the new kids to the school like JP and Grace. I got to hang out with them some more. I loved stargazing.Where I live you only see ten or fifteen a night was really cool.I really liked hanging out with Ella,Kayleigh, samantha, Makayla and Grace. They always had a happy attitude and were ready to help and serve and they were all so sweet. (Gabby )

My favorite part of the trip was hiking the Sand Dunes! The reason why the Sand Dunes were my favorite part was because I was able to climb the tallest or second tallest Sand Dune. I had a huge open blister on the bottom of my foot but that didn’t stop me from hiking all the way up. Even though it hurt a little I wanted to succeed and I did. While we were hiking up the dunes I was able to hang out with friends and I also meet some new teachers and kids. I loved when the wind was blowing even though the sand hurt sometimes. You could feel the wind playing with your hair. It was phenomenal! I also liked sledding down the sand.  It was so much fun to fall off the sled.  Then I would get back on and sled the rest of the way down. A lot of people were extraordinary at boarding and sledding like Angelina Hogan, Dylan, Samantha and others. (Maddie)

We traveled to a beautiful camp ground where we set up camp… There was something special about it. Oh yeah, we’re right next to the Great Sand Dunes National Park! My goal was to get to the top of the second highest dune in the park. The dune is called High Dune. We rented sand boards and sand sleds to take to the top with us. Some of us went to the top of the dune. It felt really good to be up there except for the sand in my eyes. I felt so accomplished up there looking out to the other HUGE piles of sand. It was a great trip. After we sand sledded down from the dunes, we went on a hike to a great waterfall and took some time to think about how great our God is. He created the mountains that stand strong today. He created all animals that roam around in the grasslands or swim under the water. He made us so we can do all the things we do today. Thanks to Him we can climb to the top of the sand dunes or play sports with others. Also we can have a good time talking and hanging out with our friends. I’m so glad I got to go on this trip. It’s an experience I will never forget.    (Ben)

I thing the best part of the trip was the time we had at the waterfall to just listen. I know we learned that God can talk to us in a whisper or a loud voice, but I did not understand that it could be even smaller then that. I was sitting listening to the waterfall, when I decided to pray to God to ask him for a whisper. I wanted him to tell me something. Now that’s not bad. But when we started to get back together, I got mad because he had not talked to me at all. Then I got madder and madder. When realized that maybe he was not going to talk to me in plain English. Maybe he had tried to talk to me by giving me signs in nature. And I had not understood him because I thought that there was only one right way to hear God and because of that I missed him. My heart was not open enough for him to get in it a way that I would understand. I am sure that he wanted to tell me something, but my heart was not ready to understand it. So he gave me something to grow on and something to learn from so the next time my heart might be ready to hear him in the way he wants.    (Makayla)

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