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

All school photo at Smugglers Cove, September 2016

Santa Cruz Island Trip

September 19 – September 22, 2016

Teacher chaperones included: Paula Campanelli, Emily de Moor, Hugo Macario, Emily Regan, Brittany Ragan, Gordon Sichi, and Dillon Yuhasz

Facebook Photos

Student Quotes:

“I remember the time when I went snorkeling in the ocean. Seeing the ocean from this perspective was unlike anything I have seen before in my life. Seeing all the kelp growing as tall as a tree, seeing fish swimming in the ocean, lobsters living in the rocks, and exploring the dark caves was a treat, too! It was all worth it to see the light coming out of the cave. Give some love to the ocean, grab your snorkeling, and see for yourself!”  – 11th Grade Student

“I really got to appreciate the differences in people and become close friends with them. It was a nice binding experience, getting to know each other better and a great opportunity to make new friends.” – 9th Grade Student


Monday, September 19,2016

Students and teachers arrived to campus at 5:30 am, packed up the U-Haul truck and boarded the school bus for a prompt 6:00 am departure for Ventura Harbor. At the harbor, an Anacapa chain of students unloaded all of the camping and food gear, which the crew then packed aboard the Island Packers’ catamaran. We left for Santa Cruz Island right on time at 8:00 am with a very calm sea all the way to the island. Along the way, the boat stopped to observe common dolphins and humpback whales. Because the pier at Scorpion Cove was damaged in last winter’s storms, all of the landings had to be done using skiffs. Island Packers has been in business since 1968, and their expertise proved up to the task of unloading all of our gear and students safely. Next on our agenda for the day was to carry all of our gear to the campsite. After making two or three trips, Anacapa’s solid teamwork moved everything quickly to the camp. Students and teachers then had a leisurely lunch before setting up the tents and the group kitchens. After lunch, the group rotations began at 2:15 pm with a general orientation by Channel Islands Outfitters at the beach camp for the snorkeling and kayaking adventures. The first to snorkel on the very calm day were the 7th and 8th graders, who all did very well. Led by our guide, half of the students daringly went through the Elephant’s Belly Cave! The 9th and 12th graders went kayaking. The 10th and 11th had a science rotation and applied what they had learned (or, reviewed) in the first week of science class by taking the time to stop, observe their natural surroundings, and come up with testable scientific questions about the organisms in their immediate natural environment. They also played a game emphasizing the importance of adaptations (e.g. the proportionally large ears on the Island Fox), and finished the rotation off with a naturalist scavenger hunt which had students searching for items such as nibbled leaves, fungus around the campsite, bright blue Island Scrub Jays, and leaves with parallel veins. The rest of the day was spent leisurely fixing dinners and cleaning up. An all-school meeting was held after dinner to go over the next day’s agenda. Everyone was pretty tired after the big day and wanted to go to bed early.

Students getting ready to leave Monday morning.

Dolphins swimming alongside the boat on our way to Santa Cruz Island.

Skiff landing!

Anacapa teamwork quickly moving all of our gear from the beach to the campsite.

“We were, and are, a group of friends that pushes one another to get each other farther than we ever thought we could. The times I had the most fun were the times when we were all hanging out with each other. No one laughs at you, even if you do something stupid. Instead, they give you a helping hand.”
  – 7th Grade Student

“I had many opportunities to take better photographs of animals and the scenery.”  – 11th Grade Student

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

We woke up at 7:00 am for breakfast and got ready for the morning rotations. At 8:15, the 10th and 11th graders met at the beach camp for snorkeling, and the 7th and 8th graders prepared for their kayaking adventure. The kayakers and the snorkelers met up at the caves around the corner from Elephant’s Belly. This was a great opportunity for the 10th and 11th graders to experience how much more comfortable they were with the snorkeling, compared to when they did the same activity on their last Anacapa trip to Santa Cruz Island in 2014. The 9th and 12th graders did an art project for their rotation. While bringing art supplies to the island was a challenge, we were able to carry watercolors and weaving materials. Two tables were set up for students to choose one or both activities. Nature provided a beautiful and inspiring backdrop to discover the many techniques used in both art forms. After the morning rotations, students made their lunches back in camp and got ready for the afternoon activities, which included a hike for most of the students to Potato Harbor and an optional free diving adventure. The hike led out of camp and up a steep hill to the cliffs. Students then marched along the ridge overlooking the north side of the island’s spectacular coastline. After arriving at the viewpoint for Potato Harbor, everyone had a snack and enjoyed the magnificent views and the sounds of the sea lions barking below us. Some students made an additional hike to Cavern Point. While the hikers were on the trail, four student divers and two teachers had an exciting “free diving” experience. After kicking up around the corner of the island against the current and kelp to some large sea caves, the dive pod returned with the current flowing with them along the edge of the Island for a beautiful “wall” diving experience. Back at the beach, all of the groups met up for some free time, and then walked back to camp to start making dinner. After dinner and clean up, everyone gathered on the tarps and played a classic game of Anacapa Trivia hosted by Dillon Yuhasz. Teams were split up into food groups and the lower school was split into the 7th and 8th graders. We played six rounds of various types of trivia, which included questions about the Channel Islands. Eighth grader James hosted one round, while another round challenged students to inflate the largest balloon in the allotted amount of time. The final category round was particularly spectacular. Eighth grader Sophia faced off head to head against tenth grader Anne in round after round of tie breaking action. Ultimately, the two of them could not outdo one another so it ended in a draw, an Anacapa Trivia first. The final results of the six teams were very close with the faculty team, Pater Mater, winning by one just point. Upper School students then had the option to participate in a Night Hike. The importance of only using red lights to let eyes adjust to the darkness was discussed.  They walked from camp to Cavern Point only using red lights to help navigate around rocks and steps on the trail.  At Cavern Point, everyone sat independently in silence for 15 minutes.  Afterwards, students discussed what they had noticed during their silent time.  Favorite moments included shooting stars, the red moon rising, and the silence.

Snorkeling at Santa Cruz Island.

Categories face-off between Sophia and Anne.

“When I was kayaking, I had to work with my partner to get through the sea caves.” – 7th Grade Student

“Listening to Gordon talk about his views of the NPS and how the island has changed allowed us to consider diverse points of view.”  – 12th Grade Student

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

This was the day for our “all school hike” across the southeast end of Santa Cruz Island to Smugglers Cove. Because the Lower School had a big breakfast consisting of bacon and pancakes (which took a long time to make) and because they had to make lunches for the day hike, they were late for the start of the hike. However, because all of the 5 walking groups moved very quickly, we arrived at Smugglers Cover around noon and had plenty of time to enjoy the beauty of the south side of the Island, which is exposed directly to south swells. There was a large swell running that day with set after set of loud crashing waves pounding on the cobble stone beach. After taking a great all-school picture with Anacapa Island in the background, everyone walked up the road to see the two-story house built by the Santa Cruz Island Company in 1881. The settlement at Smugglers Cove specialized in growing olives, which still remain, but are dying out. The road back climbs steeply from sea level to an elevation of 700 feet, then levels off, and then drops steeply to Scorpion Cove. The wind really picked up that afternoon as we walked to the windward side of the island. The evening was pretty typical of a last night of an Anacapa trip. Dinners were cooked in all of the camps, and after dinner the Anacapa Appreciations Ceremony was held on tarps and lit by a Coleman propane powered lantern. The Appreciations started off with a song that was a collaboration between upper school and lower school, boys and girls, and teachers and students. The song was a spin-off of the Bruno Mars song Count On Me, with verses altered to be about the trip. The singers started writing it just for fun, but it turned into a great way to kick off appreciations. The song was all about friendship, and how everyone is there for each other. After the song, students and teachers shared one-by-one their positive appreciations of the trip. After the appreciations were over, Lower School students had their turn for a Night Hike. Because of the high winds, they went to the beach, which was more protected.

Hiking Group #3 at the end of the all-school hike to Smugglers Cove.

Faculty showing their strength at Smugglers Cove.

“When we did the traditional appreciations, I appreciated how everyone was free to be who they are and that we are all unique. I really loved that, and it made me feel special.” – 9th Grade Student

“I enjoyed the long hike because I had a lot of time to communicate with people. I made new friends in the hiking group. I also enjoyed it because I completed my goal of being in hiking group 1. By staying in that group, I showed myself that I have more energy than I think I do!”  – 7th Grade Student

Thursday, September 22, 2016

This day was a good example of how resilient and adaptable Anacapa students and teachers can be when faced with challenges. The wind really picked up and was blowing at near gale forces. Our last rotations of kayaking and snorkeling were moved up to early morning to avoid higher winds later in the day. The 10th and 11th graders were ready to go kayaking at 8:15 am and launched into the windswept morning with enthusiasm. Back at camp, the Lower School made a breakfast of quesadillas and French toast and worked on packing up the camp at the same time. We were told that Island Packers wanted us packed early and ready to load the boat for an early departure because of the high wind factor. The 9th and 12th graders left for their snorkeling rotation at 10:00 am, and they were able to do everything the other groups did, including snorkeling through the Elephant’s Belly. Back at Camp, the Lower School had their first service opportunity of the year. They were joined by members of a National Park Service volunteer group, who led the students on a short hike away from the campground toward the interior of the island. The students were informed about an invasive species called Oyster Plant, whose roots take water and space from the native plants and grasses on the island. Students were given gloves and asked to pull the plants completely out of the ground from the root. The students did great work in the hot and windy weather, clearing out a noticeable portion of the trail and creating several large mounds of Oyster Plants. Meanwhile back in camp, the students from the Upper School, who were not snorkeling, started packing up and carrying gear down to the beach. They even carried all of the Lower School gear down to the beach. Because the Lower School had time to pack up their lunches, they enjoyed a leisurely lunch on the tables at the beach camp. The Upper School had to tough it out, as they had not been able to make their lunches with the push to pack up. Anacapa teamwork really pulled through moving all of the gear, and the Island Packers crew expertly managed loading the skiffs in the tough weather conditions. It was nice to leave early in the high winds and we got back to Ventura with plenty of time to unload the boat, load the truck, and leave on time. The unloading of the gear back on campus was another great teamwork opportunity. Parents arrived on time at 7:00 pm to a well-organized campus to pick up their students and their gear. Teachers pitched in to organize the delivery of extra food to go to the Rescue Mission and get the campus ready for classes on Monday. Great trip everyone! Way to go!

Seniors Lauren and Elena kayaking.

7th grader underwater for the dive.

Appreciations on our last night on the island.

Students braving the waves in the front of the boat on our way back to the mainland.

“During food groups, I had a good opportunity to practice collaboration. At first we were a little disorganized, but we ended up working together very well. We would not have had such a successful food group had we not been good at working together.” – 10th Grade Student

“Snorkeling was a very special experience to me. It was amazing to be in the water, so close to everything. It’s like you are in a whole other world!” – 8th Grade Student