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My Adventure at Tetons
MI was looking forward to attending the Tetons Science School trip with my friends, but I never could have imagined the adventure that would unfold. This all happened in the fall about, this time last year; late September, 2012. Fifty-four eighth grade students were invited to attend an educational field trip to Tetons Science School near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It was a four day trip, during which we would hike, conduct experiments, research work in the field, and participate in team building games and activities. It was a first come first serve opportunity, so everyone rushed to turn in their applications. In the end I was lucky enough to be one of the students chosen to go. Several of my other friends were picked to go as well. By the time departure day arrived everyone was super jazzed and pumped about going.
We left really early on a chilly Sunday morning. We all met at the school at 5:30 am to load the bus. I bid my parents a quick goodbye and joined my friends. Once we had all finally boarded the bus, we set out upon our six hour drive to Wyoming. Along the way we stopped at Bear Lake. We all got out to stretch our legs and take a picture. After we stretched our legs and took a quick bathroom break, we all reloaded the bus. We continued our drive until we finally reached Tetons Science School. We arrived around 2:00 pm.
We were all so excited. We got off the bus, unloaded our possessions; stacking our things in a huge, mountainous pile on the porch, and then we met in the commons area for an orientation. We learned about what we would be doing, what groups we were in, and the rooming arrangement. After the orientation we went to our rooms and got ourselves situated. We then divided into our groups and started to get to know each other. The group I was in was called the Elk group. It was Anna, Becca, Bela, Britney, Katelyn, Dustin, Jeff, Bill, Mattea, and I. We made up an elk call or cheer to distinguish our group. After that we went to dinner.
At Tetons, they are very conscientious about not wasting food. So after dinner we all had to scrape the food that was left on our plates into a bucket. They then put that bucket on a scale and weighed it. It was surprising to see how much food was wasted. We spent the next several days trying to reduce the wasted food, until we reached “Zero ORT Waste”. At Tetons they are also strict on the rule to cleaning up after yourself. There are no custodians so we all took turns washing the dishes and cleaning the tables and floors after meals. Before we left we also had to clean our rooms and scrub the toilets and bathrooms.
The morning of the second day is when the fun really started. We all woke up really early and got ready for the day that was ahead of us. We had breakfast, packed our lunches, and set out for a day of adventure. We went out into the wild area behind Tetons Science School to do field work. We found and identified animal scat (poop), as well as animal prints. Then we learned about the different wildlife that lived in the area. After we had finished learning, we played a game called camouflage. It is a really fun game where one person is the seeker and the other players have to hide. The hard part is that the seeker can’t move from their spot. The seeker will hold up a number and at the end of the game, if you aren’t caught (seen), and you can name all the numbers, you win. We played this game many times during our stay at Tetons Science School. After we finished our game we found a spot to eat the lunch we packed earlier that morning.
After lunch, our group went on a hike in the Teton National Park. It was a ton of fun and the landscape was beautiful. We hiked up to Secret Lake. It was a little hidden lake in the middle of that park. On our hike up, we went through an area of dead trees. They were all charred and burnt. We all decided that it would be great to paint each other’s faces with the charcoal. So, I am pretty sure that some of the people we passed along the way thought that we were part of some strange cult or something. That’s okay though, because we all had a great time.
When we finished our hike we came back to camp for dinner. After dinner we went elk bugling. It was so interesting. It was super dark and we were sitting in a clearing next to the woods. We heard at least five elks “bugling” to one another. The sounds started to get really close so we had to go and take refuge in the bus. It was a really cool experience.
The next morning we went through the same routine. We had breakfast, packed our lunches, and set out for another day of adventure. On this day we reentered Teton National Park. This time we hiked to a small open field. There we did a study of aspen trees; we learned how they grew, how humans can benefit from them, and some random facts about them. We wrote the facts that we learned about aspen trees, in our field guides. We also drew some pictures of what our aspen trees. Then we played a surprise game of camouflage. Once we finished our game, we kept on trekking up the mountain.
After we had been hiking for about a half an hour we stopped and had a lunch break.
Following lunch, we finally got to the top of the mountain. It was a breathtakingly beautiful view. You could almost see the whole Teton mountain range. After taking pictures and looking at the lovely view, we then did one more activity. This time we looked at the different bush plants and how the plants changed as we went higher up. Once we had finished evaluating the plans, we began our descent back down the mountain, so we could get back in time for dinner.
We got back to camp a little early and had some free time before we went to dinner. We spent time relaxing, and catching up on homework. That night we had a delicious dinner. This was the beginning of a great evening, and probably the most unforgettable memory of this trip. After dinner we found out that we had an activity planned for that night. We heard that we were going for a night hike with another group, and that we may possibly see wild life; we were all super excited. We packed our jackets, grabbed our hiking packs, and set off in the vans. Our group was driving to the place where we were going to hike, when our chaperone, Gwen, pulls out suckers. Now these were no ordinary suckers. They were old fashion root beer suckers that were made in Provo, Utah. So we all took a sucker, and within five minutes we were all laughing our heads off, unable to stop to save our lives. There must have been something in them, but I don’t know what it was.
We finally got to the place where we were going to hike. We arrived a little before the other group. We were all still hyped up on our sugar highs when they got there. Before we went on the hike we did a few activities in our separate group for our first activity we did this exercise that explained why animals with wet noses smell things so much better. Our counselor had some old film containers filled with spices. We were first supposed to smell them and see if we could tell what they were without looking inside them. So, I’m sure you can imagine how well this went down; telling a whole bunch of eighth graders, that are hyped up on sugar, to stand in the near darkness and smell things out of a tube. Do you see my point here?
Anyway a few people start to smell them and all was fine. Then it was Mattea’s turn. (She is pretty crazy to start with, and then on top of that, she was also super hyper at the particular moment as well.) So she goes to smell whatever is in the tube, and by accident she ends up snorting the mystery spice up her nose. Then she yells, “It burns!” The spice turned out to be cinnamon. It was so funny we all were laughing for the next ten minutes straight. Once we all calmed down enough to finish that part of the activity, we moved onto the next part. Then the second part of this activity was that you had to put water up your nostrils, and then smell the same stuff again. Seeing how we did with the first activity, if you didn’t think that smelling (in Mattea’s case, snorting) strange stuff out of tubes was bad enough, let’s just say that next part of the activity didn’t go any smoother than the first.
We were all still giggling from the last incident with the lolly pops, and the fact that we were just told that we had to put water up our nose and smell strange things again, so right from the get go you can see that things weren’t going to end well. Becca went first this time, and just in case you were wondering, it is very hard to put a little bit of water in your nose using a big water bottle without drenching yourself or having a whole ton of water go up your nose. On top of that, the laughing didn’t help. So she attempted to put some water in her nose, but ended up inhaling it. So yeah, I guess you could say that we are kind of “special” kids.
After we somehow miraculously finished our activity, we could deduce that water helped the particles of whatever you are smelling stick in your nose longer, thus allowing you to smell things better. Once that was all over, we finally went on our night hike. Let’s just say if we were suppose to see any animals, that didn’t happen. We were so loud that I’m pretty sure that the animals were all hiding from the crazy humans. That’s okay though, because we all had a great time. After our hike, we headed back to our van and rode back to camp. By that time we all were so exhausted we went right to sleep once we got back.
The next morning we got up, ate breakfast, and got ready for the few activities we had that day before we had to leave. Our first activity of the day was to go down to the river and see what microorganisms lived in the water. We were told if there were a lot of different kinds of organisms then the river was a healthy ecosystem. We in fact found many different types of organisms. Some of us had to wear these water boots, walk out into the river, and fish the organisms out. It was pretty fun. Once we had finished this activity we went back to the commons area for a slideshow of pictures of our fun times spent at Tetons Science School.
After the slideshow we had to pack our things and clean our dorms. We did a full scrub down of the dorms we stayed in. After we finished cleaning, we all gathered for a group picture in front of the Tetons Science School sign. We bid our goodbyes to the counselors, and thanked them for the wonderful time that we had. We then boarded the bus to take the long six hour drive back home. On the bus we shared with each other our own crazy stories and experiences. We were all sad to leave, but we missed our families and were excited to get home to them.