Boulder Clean Under The Stars

For teens coming from San Diego’s park-poor communities, what does a first experience rock climbing in Joshua Tree and camping under the stars look like?

Last month, Boulder Clean sponsored an overnight rock climbing trip in Joshua Tree, providing an unforgettable experience for 12 students from Crawford High School —one of the most ethnically diverse schools in the nation. For most participants, it was their first time to Joshua Tree National Park, their first time rock climbing outdoors… their first time sleeping under the stars. 

Dustin, Outdoor Outreach’s Youth Programs Coordinator, shared about the weekend: 
“We arrived around lunch time on Saturday and met Christian, a park ranger at the Quail Springs picnic area. After lunch, Christian took our group to an area of the park very few guests visit: The Wonderland of Rocks. Christian led the group on a 3-hour hike / scramble off trail along a wash and eventually to the top of a massive rock formation called the South Astrodome. From the top we could see almost the entire park. We also had the students observe 2 minutes of perfect silence —an experience that is nearly impossible to find in the city.

After the hike we drove to our campsite and utilized the last hour of daylight to jump into camping 101: how to set up tents, organize campsite, correctly use sleeping pads and bags, layer up to stay warm, start a fire, set up kitchen, etc. This transitioned into dinner, campfire time, s’mores, games, and a night scramble for a handful of the more adventuresome students.

We also took the opportunity around the campfire to have a conversation about choice —specifically the impact of our choices as consumers on the environment. I shared a little bit about Boulder Clean‘s organizational ethic and the impact of their choice to fund the trip. We also talked about plastic water bottles, the great pacific garbage patch, and ways we can make environmentally impactful choices in our day to day life. Through the conversation, students were challenged to think critically about their own choices. After campfire time we went to bed.

On Day 2 the group woke up early with the sunrise, ate breakfast and cleaned up camp. After breaking camp, we hiked over to Thin Wall, a classic climbing area nestled back in the Hidden Valley area of the park. Some of the instructors had woken up earlier to set up 5 climbing routes of varying difficulty making for a smooth transition into our climbing lesson and 2 hours of rock climbing. During this time students challenged themselves and learned how to belay under the supervision of Outdoor Outreach instructors. After climbing, we cleaned up and hiked out to the Hidden Valley picnic area for lunch. After lunch we wrapped up with our closing circle a final check-in where everyone shares a highlight and shoutout from the trip. We were all reminded of the great memories and experiences packed into the weekend. After the circle we loaded up for the 3 hour drive back to San Diego. Almost every student was asleep before we even got out of the park.”

Transformative experiences like these would not be possible without the support of corporate partners like Boulder Clean. From all of us at Outdoor Outreach, thank you! 

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