Our education programs for over two hundred of California's public and independent schools have introduced thousands of students to environments as diverse as the… Independent Schools Charter Schools Public Schools Waldorf Schools Montessori Schools Who do we serve ?
Pygmy Forest of Sonoma Giant Forest of Sequoia Sonoran Desert Colorado River Catalina Island
Naturalists at Large draws it’s instructors from all over the United States. These are men and women with 4-year university degrees who have proven experience working with youth in the outdoors and in the classroom.
With their high comfort and experience in the outdoors, their passion for teaching, and a commitment to safety first, we have the foundation for a fantastic experience for you and your students.
All of our backpacking instructors are CPR and First Aid trained. They hold advanced certifications such as Wilderness Emergency Medical Training or Wilderness First Responders . (80 to 120 hours of emergency training).
Just north of Yosemite National Park, this backpack heads into the Hoover Wilderness from Leavitt Meadow.
Leavitt Meadows Campground is located 25 miles from Bridgeport at an elevation of 7800 feet. Set in a forest along the West Walker River, this campground is where we begin the backpack into the Hoover Wilderness Area, This campground is open from the end of April to the beginning of October.
Highlights of this backpack are the sense of accomplishment from self-contained, group travel into a wilderness environment. Each day will provide vistas of high cliffs, peaks, waterfalls and the high country.
Meals are wholesome affairs providing the nutrition needed for active participants We will actually be cooking from small gas burning backpacker stoves, of which we have no pictures…. so…
<ul><li>Allergies and Special Food Needs </li></ul><ul><li>Program meals offer vegetarian food options. </li></ul><ul><li>For those with specific needs due to allergies or personal reasons, we suggest discussion with your faculty. </li></ul><ul><li>Naturalists at Large can help guide those with special diets to supplement their meals in ways which everyone can most easily manage. </li></ul>
Educational Themes can include: Geology of the Sierra Nevada Mountains Birds of the Sierra Tree identification Plants and Animals Black Bears The conifer forest High Sierra weather Plant and animal adaptations Glaciation vs. Mass Wasting
We wish to explore the importance of wilderness to our culture and the individual through group discussions and journal exercises. This shared group experience will foster school spirit and increase group unity.
The program of hiking and group activities will emphasize each student's responsibility to the environment and the group. The unique natural history of the Sierra mixed conifer forest and associated plants and animals will be a part of the educational focus.
In every walk with nature we receive far more than we seek
And a few other optional activities… Journal & Reflective Activity Map & Compass Orienteering Animal Tracking
Evening Programs Naturalists at Large will use the evening as an alternative activity/learning time for students. Each evening will have a different focus. Astronomy : constellations, motion of stars and planets, stellar evolution, stories and myths. Evening hikes to foster confidence with no artificial light. We also cover nocturnal adaptations of animals. Traditional campfire : songs, stories and skits performed by the students and Naturalists at Large staff.
Student arrival (first day before backcountry departure). Intro backpacking concept(s). Discuss SAFETY with students and faculty. Be specific on roles, responsibilities and evacuation procedures. Inspect and check ALL student gear using the NAL gear list sent to every school. Students missing crucial items can usually borrow from other students. Bag gear staying behind, clearly label and place in NAL cube truck. Students will, most likely, still need to get in and out of these bags before departing on the backpack.
(DAY ONE) 10:00 School arrives at Leavitt Meadow Big group orientation by PC Break into trail groups, intro naturalist and program 12:00 Lunch Begin backpack preparation Extra student gear in labeled hefty bags in the NAL vehicle 2:00 Begin backpack hike out (covers a few miles) 5:00 Set camp for first night 6:30 Dinner 7:30 Evening program -Backpack presentation skits: bathroom issues, sleeping warm, hydration, etc.. 9:00 Sleep prep 9:30 In tents 10:00 Camp quiet hours
(DAY TWO) 7:15 Breakfast 8:00 Continue Backpack instruction Breakdown camp / backpacks ready Head out for wilderness base camps Some groups to Piute Meadow Some groups to Walker Meadow Lunch On trail Each group will have lessons in blister maintenance, wilderness 1st aid, map and compass, natural history and the essentials of leave no trace camping Dinner Evening program : Games, stories and astronomy
( DAY THREE) A.M. Breakfast Each group will dayhike in the area Piute Group to Tower Lake Walker Group to Emigrant Pass P.M. Back at Wilderness Base Camp Dinner Evening program: Night activities dependent on student interests
(DAY FOUR) 7:15 Breakfast 7:45 Break down camp and hike out PM Arrival at Leavitt Meadow Deal with group gear De-Brief ??? School departs
Your Backpack: You will need an internal or external frame backpack, at least 4000 to 4500 cubic inches, capable of holding a sleeping bag, personal and group equipment. A backpack can be rented. REI, Adventure 16, and Sports Chalet are good resources, or consult the yellow pages under Backpacking or Sporting Goods. About 1/3 of the pack’s capacity should be available for group gear.
The fit of your pack is extremely important for your comfort and well being . “ Test load” your pack to ensure comfort. Place approximately 35-40 pounds into your pack and walk around the block a time or two. Make sure there are no “hot spots” (areas where the pack rubs uncomfortably, especially on hip bones when using an external frame pack). You should be able to stand upright and look forward without bowing your head. The bottom of your pack should not be lower than your buttocks. If you are renting a pack, make sure to ask the sales people to help you fit your pack.
Boots : Well broken in and waterproofed or STURDY WALKING SHOES . ( High top Nikes, Reeboks, etc. make good hiking shoes.) Running shoes or “sneakers” do not provide adequate ankle support, and are not waterproof. Backpack trails are often across uneven terrain. Boots provide the necessary support for feet and ankles as well as increased protection from “stubbed toes.” Break your boots in before you come : you will save your feet from blisters and uncomfortable “hot spots” !
Layering your clothing is the key to comfort in an active outdoor environment. The philosophy is that you can add or shed “layers” of clothing as necessary. Layers should start with thermal underwear (top and bottom) as the innermost layer. This should be a synthetic material, so it will wick away perspiration and keep you dry. Your next, or middle, layer is an insulating bulky layer, followed by a protective (wind and rainproof) outer layer.
Wool or synthetic fabrics are the best choices for keeping warm and comfortable in the outdoors. While cotton fabric is comfortable in warm, dry conditions, it does not retain body heat when it is wet. A wet cotton sweatshirt will not keep you warm. Therefore, we recommend not bringing cotton items, like jeans (which are made of cotton and are not comfortable to hike in).
Two (2) pairs of heavy wool or synthetic socks : Remember that cotton does not retain heat when wet and will not dry quickly. Lightweight synthetic socks: These act as a liner under wool socks and help prevent blisters. (Good socks are more important than waterproof boots or shoes.)
One (1) set of thermal synthetic (not cotton) long underwear : Polypropylene, Thermax, or capilene are good material choices: your first layer. Second set is nice for sleeping.
Compact synthetic sleeping bag with a minimum of 20 degree rating : Down sleeping bags, while warm and light, cannot keep you warm if they get wet. Sleeping bags can be rented at a sporting good shop. “Mummy” shaped bags will provide more warmth than regular rectangle bags. You will be carrying this bag in your backpack: keep it lightweight! Ensolite or Thermarest ground pad : The purpose of this pad is to insulate you from the cold ground. It is an important component to your system. Swimming pool-type air mattresses are inappropriate because they tend to rip and are difficult to fix in the field. Good inexpensive options are Ridgerest and ensolite pads.
A great adventure for the group… And the individual.
Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star. …Muir
Day Two 7-9 miles covered by all groups to one of two wilderness base camps.
Day Three Groups day hike to above tree line and back to wilderness base camp.
Day Four Hike out to Leavitt Meadow (down hill mostly) 10-11 miles.
Ask about… Medications, Allergies, and Special Dietary Needs
Other Equipment Reminders Follow your equipment list. Pack together. Adult and student can double check the contents of the pack. All clothing should fit in the backpack. A day pack is nice for the bus ride and day hikes, with water, some food, extra layers of clothing, and personal incidentals. Utensil Kit that may be reused for each meal and a cup that can handle hot & cold liquids.
Rain gear is a must. ( water-proof shell) Rain Ponchos are fine. Comfortable closed toed shoes are required. Light weight hiking boots with a few pairs of good outdoor socks (non-cotton). Two good water bottles (quart or liter). The proper sleeping bag (check your equipment list for specifics). Ground pad. Ensolite pads are much cheaper than thermarest types and work just as well.
Plastic bag protection. A half dozen, 2 gallon storage ziplocks are good for protecting clothing in a gear bag from moisture. Along with a couple hefty 15 to 30 gallon bags to line your gear bag and sleeping bag (& daypack). Don’t send gear that you could not afford lost or broken (expensive cameras, cell phones, and other electronics). A handy disposable camera would be just fine. Follow your equipment list, ask questions, borrow from friends.
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