Olympian shares his experience at Exploring New Horizons

On Monday, Feb. 29 at about 9:30 a.m., I found myself sitting on a luxurious travel bus next to a shy sixth grade boy who seemed reluctant to be on his way to Exploring New Horizons outdoor school. As a second-time counselor, my excitement was slightly diminished due to my knowledge of the responsibilities and challenges that lay ahead.

However, I was still looking forward to spending my week with naturalists, a group of 11-year-old boys, and of course, 20 other awesome counselors. There’s nothing like going on hikes, singing crazy songs about the tide pools and their inhabitants, and exploring the redwood forest.

Every day proved to be exhausting yet cheerful and positive even through all the difficult work we counselors endured, such as telling children to stop talking and making soy butter and jelly sandwiches on the trail.

Over the course of the week, very little time was set aside for counselors to do homework or study for upcoming tests because of the responsibilities that come with watching over all the sixth graders. This led to a disastrous Monday when arriving back at school, worrying about a drop in grades or a test that I was not prepared for. However, I put what I had learned at outdoor school to use and stayed positive and made the best of being back in the real world.

Reflecting on my experience at Exploring New Horizons, I see the importance of the values and beliefs passed down from the naturalists and Principal Kodiak Bear to not only the sixth graders, but also the high school counselors.

Three main ideas that are emphasized at outdoor school are a positive attitude, cooperation with others and taking chances. These guidelines are as applicable to outdoor school as they are to real life.

I felt elated being a part of the learning experience for Castro Valley’s sixth graders and fellow counselors. Overall, the journey to Camp Loma Mar was more insightful and fulfilling than anything I had experienced before.

Evan Kwong

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