You could tell that Challis school board members were a bit jealous of fifth-grade students in Stephanie Strand’s class who reported on their BaseCamp experiences at the board’s June 12 meeting.
The same students are bound for another outdoor school experience as sixth-graders next fall at Expedition Yellowstone.
BaseCamp was fun, Brodee Hunting told trustees, but he tripped and fell into a cactus on a nature walk. “It was really painful,” he said.
“He had cactus spines all up and down his back,” Strand said.
“I still have one spine,” Brodee said.
Fellow students Marcy Gregory, Taycey Runnels, Jordan Shippy and Sabina Bennetts all said they had a good time and learned a lot, although it was cold when they were in the Trail Creek Road area from April 30 until May 2.
“We froze our tushes off but it was a great experience,” Strand said. She’s instituted a morning mindfulness session and yoga that the students enjoyed and benefited from at BaseCamp into her classroom environment.
Some parents expressed concern about what BaseCamp would be like prior to the trip, Trustee Terri Stillwaugh noted.
It was mostly about some strong wording in permission slips and liability waivers, Strand said, and some thought that BaseCamp, which has two other locations in the Wood River Valley, might be “hippyville,” but it wasn’t.
“The kids and I were comfortable,” Strand said, and the camp had great staff members who made everyone feel safe. “Thank you for letting us go,” she said.
“People weren’t safe all the time,” Hunting said, referring to his cactus fall. Camp staff offered him a shower, candy and chocolate to help him feel better, Brodee’s mother, Becky Hunting said, “but he didn’t take it.”
Idaho BaseCamp is a leading resource for outdoor adventure education, according to its website, and is committed to cultivating leaders, individual and community development and serving the environment.
Strand, who has accompanied students on previous Yellowstone trips, said she would always volunteer to be one of the adults accompanying students on that trip. "It’s a neat experience,” she said. “The kids get lifetime memories.”
Challis elementary students have made a good impression on Yellowstone National Park staff and Yellowtone Forever, teacher Pam Wilson said last fall. That’s why that foundation has approved the school’s application for five straight years, along with a scholarship for partial funding.