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Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

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Re: Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Postby rlown » Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:10 pm

At least spell my moniker correctly. :)

I like the idea of waivers but those also follow a syllabus. I think that's what SF is trying to figure out.

There are basics that are covered in courses like this, which i already pointed out before one ever hits the field.

There shouldn't be a hard off-trail for a neophyte trip. That would just be bad. (unless Humphreys basin).. You know where you are all the time.

Personal note: I had keys to a car at 16 and a job and money to drive to the Berkeley REI and buy the equipment based on what I thought. That's probably the first part of the curricula. what do i really need. There was no safety sticker on my first pack when i bought it.

I just wanted to be out there.

rlown



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Re: Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Postby RoguePhotonic » Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:25 pm

I wasn't given very good instruction. Most of my early trips were exercises in sustained misery


Sounds like my first backpacking trip. My dad did all the planning and as a result we were eating about 500 calories a day. By the end I could barely move a muscle in my body. My lips were so chapped I could only open my mouth enough to nibble on food. The next couple trips weren't much better. Only my ability to endure hardship and a love for the overwhelming beauty had me coming back. I think most others would have bailed.
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Re: Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Postby rlown » Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:34 pm

all early trips are hard. because one doesn't know or prepare.

so.. back on topic..

I gave my steps to basic training.. others?

Build the syllabus.
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Re: Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Postby Tom_H » Mon Nov 12, 2012 6:53 pm

It will take me some time to put things together, but I think I can help. I have been a teacher for 35 years, both elementary as well as Biology, Chemistry, and Physics in high school. For about a decade of summers, I worked as a professional guide in a small program very similar to NOLS. Our director was a NOLS graduate and I eventually became an instructor trainer. I also was a certified Red Cross canoeing instructor and led canoe camping and whitewater trips for my outfit. I have a good deal of R.C. material, some of which might be useful.

Paul Petzoldt was one of the highest officers in the 10th Mountain Division in WWII. He founded NOLS as well as had a lot to do with O.B. His Complete Wilderness Handbook is a good starting place for your curriculum. As a Biology teacher, I supplemented that with a good deal of physiology regarding hypothermia and wilderness medicine (pulmonary, cerebral, retinal edema, etc.) as well as the thermodynamic properties of various fabrics (cotton, wool, modern synthetics) in relation to dampness, wind speed, wicking gradients, and the synergistic ability of these to create or prevent conditions for hypothermia.

I have school this week, and have to pack for a trip to Hawaii, but am on a strange school calendar that has school out of session from Thanksgiving to New Years. I will try to P.M. you with some ideas after I return from Hawaii.

Tom Harrison (not the map guy)
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Re: Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Postby austex » Mon Nov 12, 2012 7:38 pm

I too took a backpacking class in the 80's at CSUN. It was offered in the Geography Dept. (So was the Geography of Wine. Another story)
I had the remedial basics as I had been doing it for a couple yrs before. It did teach essentials and did have a over-nighter to the Dinkey Dome area. So, there may be some professor in the CSU system that may have access to a sample syllabus. Like fishing; the sport needs to be handed down and at least give them a chance to like it.
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Re: Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Postby balzaccom » Mon Nov 12, 2012 8:03 pm

I can't imagine any outdoor activity like this without the liability issue. Even as an adult, I am asked to sign waivers for everything from Class III rafting to beginning rock climbing classes.

And if you are actually taking kids into the wilderness, you are then also legally responsible for their medical treatment until their parents can be notified. Daisy is right!
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check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Postby Tom_H » Mon Nov 12, 2012 8:38 pm

balzaccom wrote:I can't imagine any outdoor activity like this without the liability issue. Even as an adult, I am asked to sign waivers for everything from Class III rafting to beginning rock climbing classes.

And if you are actually taking kids into the wilderness, you are then also legally responsible for their medical treatment until their parents can be notified. Daisy is right!


Of course she is right. All of us who are teachers know that we can't legally take students to the other side of the street without field trip papers and liability waivers signed by parents. The OP has no choice, his site and district administrators already have in place a protocol that will be followed. In all likelihood, attorneys on retainer for his district will carefully review the entire curriculum and logistics before the district fully signs off on this. He will have to have in place a full set of contingency plans and emergency evacuation procedures for any potential emergency. This is an enterprise for professionals who know what they are doing. The law stipulates that it cannot be otherwise.
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Re: Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Postby rlown » Mon Nov 12, 2012 8:51 pm

i'd bring in the Red Cross to train the kids on CPR and basic first aid. They all get certified.
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Re: Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Nov 12, 2012 9:38 pm

Teaching a backpacking class through the local community education section of the adult school made it easier for me, I think. The parent of the teens who came had to be there to sign them up and then went on the trip with us.

I don't think I would have the stomach for a high school class. I had Dad sitting there taking notes along with the kids, and they still forgot stuff. They did however have packs that weighed less than 30 lbs and plenty of food, and had a great time. It was NOT hard. They loved it. The whole grouped hiked several miles more than I anticipated they would, and we saw awesome scenery, a nice sunset, had a nice fire, and had a great post hike lunch on the way back to town. They'll be joining my hiking group this coming spring.

I just got back from a trip where some of the recreational majors from UC Santa Cruz showed up - and asked for directions. They thought they were somewhere else entirely! They had no water filter and did not know what the one we were using at the spring was for. No maps. And the next morning as we were hiking back to the trailhead we ran into them again - hiking back toward where we had all camped! They had struck out in the early morning and totally missed not one but two trail junctions that would have taken them to the destination they said they were heading for. Hiking without maps in the Ventana Wilderness is dangerous, as the fire has wiped out many of the signs, and the forest service has not re-established many of the old camps and trails that are on maps still being sold in stores. There's a ton of deer trails and use trails too. There aren't many springs flowing at this time (not enough rain yet to rejuvenate them) and some of those we spoke to had stayed at a campsite that supposedly had a spring but there was no water, so they were melting the patches of snow that were fortunately lingering along the ridge from a recent storm.

Teach them enough to understand the risks and to plan well. Have plenty of first aid trained chaperones (I highly doubt teens can use first aid certifications themselves). They need more than hand-holding.

I'm debating whether to call UC Santa Cruz and yell at someone. It was in the low 20s at night and didn't rise above freezing until 9-10 am, and those kids were all in shorts and tank tops!
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Re: Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:32 am

I am an equal opportunity mis-speller, with no intent to disrespect. I realize that there may be some misunderstanding regarding my initial post.

I did not mean that a camp-out in the football field be a substitute for a real trip in the wilderness; simply that any "classroom" experience that can be done outdoors vs. indoors will have more impact. I would aim to do as much instruction outdoors as possible. For example, walk 3-4 miles on the track (simulates trail), pack on, with the shoes they plan on using - someone will get a blister, teach blister first aid, and then talk about appropriate shoes. You learn best when you have to suffer the consequnces of poor decisions, but in a safe environment. Hands-on beats book learning. Setting up camp is part of backpacking, and is learned better if done, outdoors, on the ground, and even in poor weather. Students need not only to see an equipment list, they need to touch it, fiddle with it, actually pack it up, put the pack on, carry it.

All the while you can integrate basic math, physics- Why does the pack feel so awkward if you dangle heavy stuff off the backside? Map reading is visual geometry. And planning food - figure out the nutritional content based on weighing the food, and noting the calories, protein, carbs, fat on the label. Like - package says 2.5 servings, 250 calories per serving, weighs 6 oz., if I use the entire package for dinner, how many calories do I get. Complications come into play as labels refer to grams of protein. Actually cook meals- you will be surprised at how many kids have never even boiled water! I would not use white gas type stoves for safety reasons. Be aware of environmental responsibility in everything. Kid drops a candy wrapper on the ground. This is a teachable moment!

Do not forget the "soft skills" such as the social aspect (we called it "expedition behavior" at NOLS). Someone annoys you. On a several day backpack, you cannot just ignore this. How to work together as a team. Also talk about leadership/followership. What are advantages of strong leadership vs a more loosely organized group? How do you decide who is in charge when things go wrong? If everyone just goes their own way, you have chaos, but nobody wants to hike behind a Hitler. Do you stick together, or hike your own pace - and if the latter, what happens if at the destination someone has gone missing?

One thing I have observed is that you need to make an effort to have everyone do all tasks. Map reading, particularly, a few will simply depend on others rather than do it ib their own. Maybe not as much nowadays, but in the past girls and boys sometimes did not get out of their "roles" - girls cooked, guys navigated. I solved this by having all-boy and all-girl smaller groups while learning the skills. Natural leaders will emerge, but make an effort to nudge the shy ones leadership experience too.

Teachers probably already know all this stuff.

Personally, I would not have parents come on a trip to supervise. Helicopter parents do the kids no good. If you do not have other teachers will and experienced to come on a trip, you may have to default to parents, but be sure the parents stay in the background and do not become a problem that overshadows the trip. I would contact the local Scouts and see if they have any qualified leaders who would be willing to go along. Because of permit issues, as well as supervision, think about breaking the class into smaller groups and doing several trips vs one big trip.
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Re: Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Nov 13, 2012 11:24 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:Personally, I would not have parents come on a trip to supervise. Helicopter parents do the kids no good. If you do not have other teachers will and experienced to come on a trip, you may have to default to parents, but be sure the parents stay in the background and do not become a problem that overshadows the trip. I would contact the local Scouts and see if they have any qualified leaders who would be willing to go along. Because of permit issues, as well as supervision, think about breaking the class into smaller groups and doing several trips vs one big trip.


The parent I mentioned took the class along with his kids - all three of them were students. That's a little different case than with a high school class, of course. But the parent still needs to understand enough to not undermine things by cramming more stuff in the pack than the kid needs (tales former boy scout troop leaders I know have told me ... ).
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Re: Ideas! Teaching Backpacking to High School Students

Postby rlown » Tue Nov 13, 2012 11:28 am

in a high school setting, kids don't want their parents there anyway.. In Boy Scouts, the parents didn't come along either. It'd have to be a special parent per WD''s comments.
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