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 Week of Nature: Starry Nights, Hikes, and Trees

A group of 15 fourth- and fifth-graders will get scholarships to attend Cuyamaca Outdoor School next year because of their creative and well-written essays about positive experience they've had outdoors and what they hope to learn at the school.

To celebrate nature, outdoor education and these creative students, we're going to feature three of their essays each day this week. Here are three more:

Anjana Shriram
Solana Ranch
Solana Beach School District

I gaze up dreamily at the starry night sky wondering "Who am I in this world?"  I can already imagine myself in the eerie darkness of night with majestic pines, sheer canyons, and towering mountains surrounding me like walls.  My body tingles with excitement and anticipation at the thought of bonding with other students and discovering the mysterious secrets of nature.

I look forward to seeing animals roaming about, as well as inspecting various plants.  This will also be a wonderful opportunity for me to learn about a variety of biomes and habitats.  In addition to learning about the environment and different types of wildlife, I'm hoping to increase my knowledge about the ongoing water cycle.

When I return home, will things have changed!  My fascinating experience at camp will definitely change and improve my point of view and the way I handle certain situations.  I will also learn about responsibility, for many of the activities I participate in will require me to think and act independently.  Also, I feel that this adventure will correspond greatly to the Seven Habits we practice at our school.  I will have to be proactive and take ownership of my actions.  This trip will also involve setting goals, and planning ahead for future events.  Here, I'll be following the 2nd habit, Begin With the End in Mind.  I will have to prioritize my tasks and spend my time wisely, thus Putting First Things First.  I'll have to Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood and also synergize and work together.  I will learn to understand others before sharing my own ideas.  Sharpening the Saw won't be a problem, for I will receive plenty of exercise from hiking, rock climbing, etc.  I also won't take things for granted, and appreciate family.

I will learn to protect life and encourage others in my community.  I won't litter and will maintain a clean safe and healthy environment.  I will contribute and do my part to make the Earth a better place for all.

All in all, I know this will be an extremely memorable journey, and will give me a wonderful chance to enjoy nature, a special gift in life.


Selena Qiao
Solana Ranch
Solana Beach School District

I can't wait for Cuyamaca Outdoor School!  The adventure hikes, animals, friends and wild plants – it's going to be so fun! 

One reason I am so excited is because I get to take hikes.  I don't know if it's over a mountain, through a meadow, or around a lake.  All hikes should be great!  Then we might get to go to museums, to see animal furs, bones, and eggs.  I love animals, and if we see one on a trail, that will be the luckiest day of my life.

I expect to learn about the animals and plants we see.  Maybe how to identify footprints, fur, or droppings!  I think I will learn how to identify different trees and flowers, and if they are poisonous or not.  Maybe we could learn about survival, like how to light a fire, or which plants are edible.  That would be really fun.  Definitely we would learn to appreciate Earth and nature for supplying us with life and food.

Camp will change my beliefs and might alter me for the good.  It will give me a better perspective, a healthy appreciation of the wildlife around us, and a new understanding of ecosystems and the habitats around us.  It might encourage me to pollute less, and go on more walks than drives.

I will also get a break from pollution.  No lights hanging over my head trying to get my attention.  No cars beeping and honking.  No people rushing to work.  Without the lights, the real beauties, the stars, shine bright in beautiful constellations.  Without cars polluting, the air is fresh and crisp.  When I get back, I might start walking to school even more, teach about poisonous plants and how to avoid them, and educate neighbors on the importance of nature.

Camp Cuyamaca will be a fun way to learn about nature and get away from the daily pollution, electronics, and homework.  It will be a different and fun outdoor school where I will learn and have an adventure.  I can't wait for next year!


Amy Xu
Solana Pacific
Solana Beach School District

After the 6th-graders came back from Cuyamaca Outdoor School, it was all that they would talk about.  Whenever you walked through the sixth grade hallway you could hear them chatting away about how amazing it was.  I soon became interested and asked some of Mrs. Stamer's old students about it.  Of course they were more than happy to give me some details.

When they told me how awesome Cuyamaca Camp was a few activities stuck out in my mind.  I was extremely pumped to learn archery, make sculptures out of wood and go hiking at Rock Canyon.  Every once and a while, my family and I go to the beach to go star-gazing.  I was very happy to learn that I could also go looking for constellations at sixth grade camp.

At Cuyamaca Camp I expect to see many trees and possibly some snow!  I was born in Lexington, KY so every winter I got to open my bedroom windows and see a blanket of snow everywhere. 

I anticipate that I will also learn some science. I want to be educated about plants and possibly become a botanist when I grow up.

After camp ends, I can assume it will be rather bitter. But, I will also feel very accomplished because I spent a few nights alone.  Camp may turn me into a more independent person and make me feel like I can achieve any goal if I set my mind to it.  It may also bring me closer to my friends.

I can picture in my mind, how I can make my community, school and neighborhood a better place.  I can educate my community on nature and maybe even inspire people to become wildlife protectors.  At my school and neighborhood I can pick up pieces of litter, clean up leaves and make California an even better place to live.

All in all, I am ecstatic to go to sixth grade camp and get in touch with mother-nature.  I simply can't wait to visit Camp Cuyamaca Outdoor School!