I am sure we have all felt it at some point this winter–a cool breeze rolling over the treetops, threatening to abscond with the drying leaves. It is very likely those leaves, perhaps even branches, have since disappeared after our latest Texas cold snap.
But that’s just it—a cold snap.
The sun is coming back out, the air is warming up, and we are finally back in the East Frio Canyon filled with all the excitement of an overnight school trip. You heard us right! Our spring retreat season is full swing. After a calm fall hosting familiar faces and old friends, attending conferences, and bolstering our skills, it is once again time for our favorite gauntlet. We have jammed our calendar with as many friends as we could and are exploring every nook and cranny of the Canyon. Armed with dip nets and binoculars, we plan to delve into microsystems, explore temperamental topography, and reach great heights with every student who enters through our gates.
Imagery aside, we are truly excited for this spring season. We have 11 schools lined up with a handful of additional programs built for teachers. After taking a serious look at how we implement our retreat programs, we are excited to roll out improvements to our retreats which we hope will lead to deeper relationships, greater understanding, and most of all more time spent outdoors for our students. But we didn’t accomplish this alone!
The Outdoor School team has grown. This past year saw the addition of two outstanding members: Kimberley Williams, our Community Camping Director, and Emma Duke, our Outdoor School Associate. With their help, we have made improvement after improvement, learning new ways to reach students, and improving how we serve teachers and their school communities.
Of course, we can’t forget our friends from across the state. The Expedition School, a group of passionate guides led by Kimery Duda, continue to assist us in providing excellent experiences both on and off the water for our students. Camp of the Hills, which hosts their own outdoor education program, has also been courteous enough to lend us some of their time this spring, volunteering as facilitators for several of our retreats. With friends like these, what more could we ask for?
Finally, to spotlight some of the exciting improvements coming to our program this year, we are expanding some of the offerings included with our outdoor education activities. We will be partnering with some schools to provide fly fishing instruction and in-depth geology classes. Students will be practicing new techniques while discussing the ethics of fishing on public waters, altogether growing their angler knowledge. Meanwhile, their peers will be exploring new depths, searching for fossils amongst the limestone escarpments as they dissect the rock cycle to learn just how the Canyon, and the Edwards Plateau, were formed.
We can’t wait. You’re going to love coming to class!