Beginning-of-the-Year Trip: Santa Cruz Island

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September 15-18, 2014

Teachers Attending the Trip: Bryan Anderson, Hugo Macario, Megan Nesland, Gordon Sichi, Suzie Sichi, and Dillon Yuhasz.

Facebook photos

Pre-Trip Orientation Activities
Students prepared for the Santa Cruz Island Trip with a number of pre-trip orientation activities during the afternoons of the first week of school:

  • On Friday, September 5, our new school year orientation program included kayaking sessions at Leadbetter Beach to let the students practice their kayaking skills. Channel Islands Outfitters provided the kayaks and guiding service with our guide, Matt, who would later lead our snorkeling activities on Santa Cruz Island.
  • On Monday, September 8, three representatives from Channel Islands Outfitters came to Anacapa to share an “Island Stoke” session to give us information about the exciting adventures awaiting us.
  • On Tuesday, September 9, SBCC geologist Jeff Meyer and his assistant Eiko Kitao shared their knowledge of Earth history with our students and teachers and explained the geologic history of the Channel Islands.
  • On Wednesday, September 10, National Parks Service education specialist Carol Peterson and Pat Meyer, representative of Friends of the Island Fox, gave us a presentation on the history of the successful recovery program to save the Island Fox.
  • On Thursday, September 11, Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary representative Laura Francis brought us up to speed on the protected marine areas in Channel Islands National Park.
  • At different times during the trip prep sessions, students went over the trip equipment list, watched the new movie Channel Islands National Park: Treasure of the Sea, met with their food groups to plan menus, and set up tents to make sure they knew how to do it before the trip.

Monday, September 15, 2014
Students and teachers arrived on campus at 5:30 am, helped load the U-Haul truck with our food and gear, and then took off on time at 6:15 am for Ventura Harbor. At the harbor, we worked efficiently using a “human chain” to pass our enormous amount of gear onto the Islander. We set off at 8:15 am for a somewhat choppy passage with some students and teachers getting sprayed by the ocean along the way. Upon our arrival at Santa Cruz Island, we once again human-chained our gear to the loading area, and after an orientation by Ranger Helen on the rules and expectations, we carried our gear half a mile to our campsites under the shady eucalyptus trees.

We set up our camps in time to start our kayaking and snorkeling activities at 1:00 pm. Students were divided into three groups for the trip activities (7th, 8th, and 10th grades; 9th and 11th grades; and the senior class). The seniors went sea kayaking first to Cavern Point and tucked into sea caves along the way. The 9th and 11th graders went snorkeling and did really well going all the way to the beautiful Elephant Cave. Each group had expert supervision from three professional guides provided by Channel Islands Outfitters. The 7th, 8th and 10th graders did water colors with Suzie Sichi.

After these great introductory island activities, students enjoyed swimming and hanging out at the beach at Scorpion Cove and then returned to their camps to cook dinner. Everyone was quite tired after the big day, and with our early morning schedule for kayaking and snorkeling the next day, we went to bed around 9:00 pm.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014
After an early-morning wakeup call at 6:30, a quick breakfast, and camp clean-up, we met our guides at 8:00 am for another round of ocean adventures. Overnight, a southern hemisphere swell had kicked up and stirred the water around Scorpion Cove. The seniors went snorkeling, but it was a little rough for them. The 7th, 8th, and 10th graders had a good session kayaking into sea caves, but they were unable to get around Cavern Point with the swells and high winds. Guides Mike and Dave did a great job of interpreting the geology, kelp forests, and marine life along the way. The 9th and 11th graders did a native plant scavenger hunt with Bryan and Hugo.

After the morning activities, some students hung around the beach and some headed back to camp until lunch. The afternoon included a choice of senior-led activities or a “free diving” expedition with Megan and Gordon up the coast to the sea caves. The free dive group of six students with proper gear was divided in half with each teacher watching out for a group of three students and each diver with an assigned buddy. The sea cave was too rough to enter, so the divers agreed to kick around the point to the other side of the cave with its larger entrance and calmer water. The nearby Blow Hole was wild and wonderful to watch. When students started to get a little tired, we headed back, seeing Black Abalone, bat rays, and many kinds of fish and marine organisms along the way and enjoying diving through the swaying kelp forests. It was a big adventure for our divers, and everyone did very well.

Back at Scorpion Cove, students enjoyed an afternoon of beach activities. Afterward, everyone slowly headed back to camp for dinner preparations and to enjoy some free-time activities, including sports and badminton for some.

After dinner at 8:00 pm, Dillon Yuhasz organized a fun game of Trivial Pursuit with the five different food groups and the teachers as a group competing against each other. “Teacher Megan’s” food group of vegetarians won! After the Trivial Pursuit game, Suzie took the Lower School on a night hike up the trail toward Cavern Point. The night was very windy, and the stars were bright in the night sky. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
This was the day for the big “all-school” hike up to the summit of Montanon, the highest mountain on the east side of Santa Cruz Island. We got a late start, as we needed to wait for the boat to arrive at 10:15 am with Ken Owen, Executive Director of Channel Islands Restoration, to begin the hike with his guided “walk and talk” about his group’s efforts to preserve native plants, some of which are found only on the Channel Islands. Ken hiked with us as far as the site of the historic oil well, and then he needed to head back to get the 4:00 pm boat back to the mainland. The rest of the hike was quite challenging in the high winds and heat of the afternoon. The school did very well, especially handling the narrow trail on the volcanic top of Montanon. Hugo and Dillon led a large group of students who wanted to summit the very top of Montanon. The views of Santa Cruz Island, the blue ocean surrounding it, the mainland, and our namesake Anacapa Island were absolutely stunning! The hike involves 1,800 feet of elevation up and 1,800 feet back to sea level, representing a true accomplishment of physical activity. Congratulations, Anacapa, for another all-school peak experience!  Back at Scorpion Cove, students jumped into the sea to cool off after such a big hike.

That evening back at camp, dinners were prepared in a leisurely manner, and at 8:00 pm both the upper and lower schools assembled in the upper school camp for our traditional “appreciations” campfire activity, using lanterns instead of a campfire, as fires on the Island are prohibited. The appreciations were fun and nicely led by the large senior class with the new students and international students joining in enthusiastically. Because we needed to get up early to pack up our camp, everyone headed off to bed to get a good night’s sleep.

Thursday, September 18, 2014
The 6:00 am wakeup call found everyone sound asleep, but people got moving pretty quickly. We needed to break down our camps, have breakfast, and pack up our lunches and snacks for the day. All of our gear, including all of our trash, needed to be carried the half mile to the beach. Everyone pitched in very well, and after the gear was secure at the dock area, we took our all-school photo on the beach. At 11:00 am, our last round of guided outings started. The 7th, 8th and 10th graders went snorkeling in calm and clear seas and did very well, and the 9th and 11th graders went kayaking and made it around Cavern Point and into Cavern Cave! The seniors did the native plant scavenger hunt with Megan.

After the mid-day activities were completed, we had plenty of time to lounge around the beach, swim, have lunch, and just hang out. We started loading the boat around 3:30 pm with the human chain again put into action. The boat ride back went well. With the modern, dual hull-designed Island Packers’ boats, seasickness was not an issue. Back in Ventura, the off-loading of the boat went very efficiently. Our very experienced kayaking guide, Mike, commented that it was the fastest off-loading he had ever seen! Way to go, Anacapa! We arrived back in Santa Barbara ahead of our 7:00 pm scheduled return.

This Beginning-of-the-Year Trip for Anacapa was a big adventure. With the assistance of Channel Islands Outfitters and its crew of experienced guides, everyone got to snorkel in open water and kayak into sea caves. For most of our students and teachers, this was the first time in their lives to challenge themselves in these ways. Also, for most of our students and teachers, it was the first time they were able to step foot on one of our Channel Islands. As has been said by many of our alumni over the years, the Anacapa trips let them go to places they would never have gone. We did it again, Anacapa, and with great adventures for all. Congratulations!

Student Testimonials from Trip Surveys

“Personally I think this experience did change me…Ever since the first time I went snorkeling I’ve wanted more and more to do with the ocean and helping protect it. I can’t imagine what the world would look like if all the oceans were as clear as the protected parts of the Channel Islands. The Santa Cruz trip was one of the best experiences I’ve had so far and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I made so many new friends and bonded with so many people and I truly believe the trips are one of the best parts of Anacapa School.” – 8th Grade Student

“Every Anacapa School trip I’ve been on has prepared me for real adulthood. Every time I go on a school trip, I always feel a bit nervous and homesick at first, but towards the end I always feel glad I went.” – 11th Grade Student

“Now I see that where ever you are there can be friends with you because you can make friends along the way as long as you try to be friendly to others.” – 10th Grade International Transfer Student

“I absolutely loved the view from the top of the mountain, and our relaxing beach time swimming around in Scorpion Bay. These are now some of my fondest memories with my peers… I found best friends in people I had never really hung out with before.” – 10th Grade Student

“I became more confident in my ability to make friends over this trip and I’m glad we were able to have an ‘Anacapa bonding experience’.” – 11th Grade Student

“On the trip I learned to appreciate and accept people’s differences. For example, some people really didn’t want to snorkel, but I did and I learned to accept that not all people have the same opinions.”  8th Grade Student

“Being in such a protected place as Santa Cruz, you realize that it will only stay that beautiful if you do your part.”- 12th Grade Student

“I practiced healthy physical and mental habits by trying to eat healthy and doing physical activities. I also didn’t have internet so I spent more time with people rather than on my phone.” – 9th Grade Student