Village School Outdoor Education
The seeds of Chadwick’s commitment to outdoor education are planted with the intention of kindling a lifelong appreciation for nature. As early as kindergarten, Village School students begin exploring their natural world and discovering the inherent wisdom and wonderment of the ecosystems around them. In the third grade, students begin building basic skills during off-campus excursions throughout California, with courses becoming progressively more challenging with each passing year. These skills serve as a foundation for more rigorous backpacking adventures in the Middle and Upper Schools.
Kindergartners partner with their teachers, STEM specialists, and Upper School students in Eco Club to begin developing appreciation for nature, outdoor skills and sustainability. They learn about and explore the Chadwick Canyon, discussing the connection between health and the outdoors and how to practice safety, such as wearing sunscreen in outdoor environments.
First-graders go on hikes in the Chadwick canyon to study California native plants. They also visit Madrona Marsh in Torrance, where they identify native plants and use math skills to determine the height and length of plants and leaves. They often see evidence of wildlife and the animals themselves, as well as visiting the nature center, where they see displays of animals that live in the marsh, hold animal skins and see live reptiles. Hiking through the marsh, the students see firsthand the beauty of the natural space and learn how to respect their environment.
Second-graders spend a school day exploring the White Point Nature Preserve in San Pedro, a part of the Palos Verdes Land Conservancy. They spend another visiting the Point Vicente Interpretive Center. They are introduced to animal and plant life cycles found in those locations, match the life cycles of local animals, and identify and learn about the life cycles of flowering plants. During a nature hike, students find evidence of the life cycles of animals and plants observed along the trails.
Third-grade students stay for two nights at El Capitan Canyon north of Santa Barbara, where they hike and study Native American culture and environmental science while working with scientists from Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society. On the trip, they meet live reptiles and do a creek hike down to the ocean to do water testing, among other activities.
Fourth graders journey to Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center for a two-night “Mine Immersion” program where they combine the basics of geology, mining, and the history of the Gold Rush in California. Students are able to crack and keep their own geodes after learning the unique way they are created, learn the different characteristics of rocks to identify them, and experience several different mining practices in a very real way. They will pan for gold, visit the Assay Office to learn how gold and other metals are tested for purity and value. Students also focus on the positive and negative implications of mining upon our society, environment and improvements in the field that will affect both safety and sustainability.
Students take a five-day course to PALI Mountain Science Camp in the San Bernardino Mountains in the winter. The trip has a focus on science as it applies to the outdoor environment that the students are experiencing. This trip includes hiking and a high-ropes course, where they work on skills like collaboration and critical and creative thinking. For many students, this is their first experience in the snow!