Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students | High Sierra Topix  

Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.
User avatar

Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Postby Silverfox » Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:45 pm

I am looking for your collective wisdom and ideas for a class I will be teaching in the Spring. A little background, I am a High School Geography teacher and our school invited teachers to teach a 45 min. once a week class for a semester about something we are passionate about in addition to my normal classes. So, I am teaching an introduction to backpacking class. My experience, besides my formal education, includes 38 years of camping, hiking, and fishing in the Sierra's and six years of multiple summer trips backpacking in the Sierra's from 3 to 9 day trips, through lots of snow in (2011), crossing the sierra east to west, and of course the crossing of many high passes. I am a frequent reader, and utilize your wisdom and knowledge for my own experiences. I also have a few trip posts.

Here is a brief description of the class:
This course is meant to take the mystery out of backpacking while preparing you to survive in the remote wilderness. I’ll share my knowledge in this show, tell and practice class as we learn and prepare for your own adventure. No experience necessary!

I have many ideas, but I would appreciate any of your collective wisdom and ideas. These are my major topics: Leave no trace, Surviving the Dangers of the Wilderness, Health & Safety, Outdoor Shelter, Cooking in the Woods, Equipment, and Planning a Trip

Thanks,
Silverfox
I also wish to share my heartfelt condolence for Larry and to his many friends on this forum, I unfortunately did not experience the honor to know such a great mountain man!



User avatar
Silverfox
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 36
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:05 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Postby rlown » Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:48 pm

Several of the CSU's offered a backpacking course in the early 80's. I took one then at Sac state. They even had a trip or two involved. You might want to talk to them to see what the curricula was then. Most of your topics were covered in the class.

the obvious were involved:

1) map and compass (no GPS then)
2) topo reading
3) food planning
4) general equipment planning


And yes.. The trip report.

You might bring in local experts even from here to field questions during your class. You don't want a first semester class to go too deep into remote wilderness. Our "field trip" was in the Yuba gap. Got my first tick on that trip. Still fun.
Last edited by rlown on Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
rlown
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 5358
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:00 pm
Location: Petaluma and Wilton, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Postby Silverfox » Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:51 pm

Thanks Rlown,

I'll look into it. Great idea about utilizing this post. I will add that to the class as a resource. The remote wilderness is part of the title to generate interest, I have no intention to send them on a first trip off trail. If any ideas come up, even if they seem simple, let me know. Maybe something you thought was helpful to know when you first started. Thanks!

Silverfox
Last edited by Silverfox on Sun Nov 11, 2012 9:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Silverfox
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 36
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:05 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sun Nov 11, 2012 9:02 pm

The main thing that needs to be taught about backpacking or wilderness travel is that the boogie man does not exist. The banjo does not sound from the trees. The hills do not have eyes.

American culture is one of fear and the first question I am almost always asked is do you bring gun with you?

Teaching about the beautiful tranquility in the pathless woods is the first step.
User avatar
RoguePhotonic
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1668
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 9:52 am
Location: Bakersfield CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Postby rlown » Sun Nov 11, 2012 9:07 pm

those who signed up for the course I took weren't scared at all. More about "what do we do?".. I had 4 years under my belt by that time plus 4 more hunting before that mostly off trail.

I agree though Rogue, those who will be drawn to the class will already not be afraid.

I'm gonna throw this out there. Markskor is in fact a high school teacher, and a darned good one from what i know.
User avatar
rlown
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 5358
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:00 pm
Location: Petaluma and Wilton, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sun Nov 11, 2012 10:11 pm

Well if they come to you I assume they aren't afraid but if it's a general group of high school kids then who knows.
User avatar
RoguePhotonic
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1668
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 9:52 am
Location: Bakersfield CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Postby DriveFly44 » Sun Nov 11, 2012 10:37 pm

That's awesome your school is doing that. I teach hs as well and plan to form a outdoor/hiking/backpacking club next year. I think you have a great start with your areas of focus. I would think you could introduce a very brief general history of the sierras as well as an overview of the plants, animals, trees, rocks, fish, etc that you might find. Just a few ideas ;)

Ladd
User avatar
DriveFly44
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 268
Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2008 9:33 am
Location: Twain Harte
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Nov 11, 2012 10:43 pm

The age of your High School students makes a big difference. Freshmen or seniors or inbetween. I taught for the National Outdoor Leadership School for seven years. Sixteen is the cutoff for the regular courses. A special course was taught for 13-16 year olds. As you are probably aware, there is a huge difference in maturity with respect to judgement from 13 to 18!

Contact the National Outdoor Leadership School (nols.edu) to see if they have some guide to ciriculum that may help you. You may also want to contact the Boy Scouts. They do this a lot.

One semester is not enough so you need to have some very specific goals. I have always taught "hands on" from day 1 in the field so am biased against straight classroom backpack classes. But you can do indoor "hands on" - bring in gear, set up a camp, etc. Camp out once in the football field! Safety and wilderness ethics (leave no trace) are very important. You will not be able to teach enough first aid but you can encourage those who want to contiue to take a wilderness first aid course. I would also set up some judgement scenarios (something goes not as planned, what do you do?) and read a few survival/rescue cases and pick these apart. Teach emergency protocol. Trip planning is a big part of overall safety. Proper planning goes a long ways to assure a safe trip. Many of us here on this forum do off-trail solo backpacking. Impress upon your students that this style is for the experienced! Beginners should go with others and stay to the trails until they get some miles under their feet!

Backpack classes often focus too much on equipment, not enough on knowledge and judgement. Navigation is a must - but with limited time keep it to the minimal basic skills needed.

A similar type class that I took when in high school and subsequently assisted in the teaching was a basic mountaineering class offered by a mountaineering club. Again, the minimum age requirement was 16. We used "Mountaineering, Freedom of the Hills" (Seattle Mountaineers) as a text. It goes beyond backpacking, but see if you can check it out of a library and thumb through it. We had 2 hours classroom, once a week all spring with one day each weekend for hands-on. Our "final" was to climb Mt Rainier. There also are backpacking specific "how-to" books.

I hate to be so cynical, but in these times, you would be wise to have each student and parents sign liability waivers.

Good Luck!
User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2610
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Postby rlown » Sun Nov 11, 2012 10:55 pm

WD.. you're wrong in so many ways.. I did my crap on my own.. you know you did as well. It's a learning experience and an escalation of capability. I don't care about NOLS.

You go out there, you do stuff and you learn. That's it.

SF is just trying to prepare people who have no idea.

Think what a beginners course might be like.. No one there is doing a col.
User avatar
rlown
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 5358
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:00 pm
Location: Petaluma and Wilton, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Postby Fly Guy Dave » Mon Nov 12, 2012 8:35 am

I think that far too many folks today are rather hard pressed to give up their creature comforts, so making the first few trips really easy and not as uncomfortable as it "could" be, would go a long way in "hooking" the kids into enjoying the backpacking experience, so they'll want to do it again, if that is indeed your overall goal.

I recall learning how to backpack in the boy scouts back in the 1970s and I wasn't given very good instruction. Most of my early trips were exercises in sustained misery, due to ultra heavy packs, crummy food and far too many long slogs and not enough play time. Most of my friends that joined with me bailed soon after, but I endured and on my own slowly learned better ways to pack, eat and have fun. The whole reason I joined the scouts was so that I could go camping more than once a year, so I wasn't into all of the rank and merit badge stuff.

I think we all know that backpacking requires a bit of sacrifice of some things, so go easy on 'em at first and let them know what they are in for, mentally prepare them. Ultimately, the sacrifices are worth the gains.

Good Luck!
"Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man." --Jeff Lebowski

Some pics of native salmonids: http://flyguydave.wordpress.com/
User avatar
Fly Guy Dave
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 426
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 9:27 am
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

User avatar

Re: Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Postby gdurkee » Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:02 am

It's great to take the time to get kids into the woods. Good work! At the top of the list, being the paranoid guy that I am, is safety. There's a tendency among outdoor instructors to go on the trips they want to go on and drag less experienced people along (see Fly Guy's experience -- all too common!). It's too easy to get your own ego involved. Both the instruction and any trips should be easy and fun. No need to overthink or overplan this stuff.

I'd strongly advise any trips you do be not only easy, but have a quick and safe exit in case of bad weather. As fun as it might seem to you, and maybe a few of your students, don't do any cross country or off-trail stuff. Kids will have enough feeling of adventure and exploration on a trail so no need to push it.

On trips, make sure you have enough responsible & experienced help. For 10 students, you need at least 2 adults -- three would be better in case of injury. When traveling, everyone is briefed on the route, that they stop at trail junctions to regroup and all have a map. You don't necessarily have to bunch in one large group, but do have to have groups of at least 3 hiking together. Walkie talkies are a good idea and a trail sweep person is necessary.

OK. Hope this helps. It may seem a little controlling, but there's a huge difference in individual responsibility of going out on your own, and taking responsibility for a group. The latter has to be run as safely as possible.

Excellent effort! Good luck.

George
User avatar
gdurkee
Founding Member
 
Posts: 658
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2005 8:20 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:41 am

Rowln - YOU are wrong in so many ways. Since when were you legally responsible for teens and taught backpacking classes? Kids do go out on their own and learn by trial and error, but as a teacher at a public school, YOU CANNOT DO THIS! Just because you started this way, how many decades ago, does not make it the best way to start. These kids may be inner city urban kids. NO WAY are they going to have the wherewithall to safely step into the wilderness on their own. It is highly irresponsible to suggest that a 15-year old, go off-trail, in the Sierra, solo and just "figure it out".
User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2610
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

Next

Return to The Campfire



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Yahoo [Bot] and 6 guests