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The Paw Print

The Paw Print

Comparing the freshman outdoor ed trips

How would you like to live on a pirate ship for a week? A group of 40 ninth graders got this chance on the Catalina Sea Outdoor Education trip. The rest of the freshman class had fun camping on land, but in my opinion, the sea trip was a far superior, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

First, the sea trip had more exhilarating activities than the land trip. On the tall ships we got to swing from a rope into the ocean, raise the sails and even steer the ship; all action packed, thrilling and slightly risky activities, whereas those on land gardened, composted and built dirt stairs. While the land campers did get to do a high ropes course, the tall ships were themselves a ropes course. We got to climb up the mast and out onto the sails, as well as onto the bowsprit (the pole extending from the front of the ship), where we could sit in a net hanging above the waves.

Activities like snorkeling, kayaking and hiking overlapped between the two trips. However, the sea trip included a ride on a small motor boat to a kelp forest, where we got to snorkel in the ocean. When hiking, we also got to see a dozen sharks in one of the bays between the island’s two harbors. These were just a few of the many activities we got to do on the sea trips. On the land trip, however, these three activities were the highlights.

While those on the land trip did get to snorkel at night, the sea trip had an equivalent called “night watch,” when we checked the ship’s position and crew throughout the night to keep everyone safe. Samantha Golden, a land trip student, reported that her favorite activity was the night snorkeling. “The bioluminescence was sparkly, and it was really pretty,” she said. However, the sea trip’s night watch gave an opportunity every night (not just one) to see and hear a variety of creatures, ranging from stingrays to sea lions. In fact, one night I got to watch a school of flying fish jumping under the glow of my head lamp.

Regarding daily life, the sea trip takes the lead yet again. The cabins on land had a bug problem, and according to freshman Shayla Starr, “The yellow jackets over there were crazy, and everybody in my cabin got stung.” This was far less of a problem on the boats. The sleeping situation was similar between trips, although the sea trip was a little more crowded. However, on tall ships we could sleep on the deck underneath the stars. The view mesmerized us as we slowly rocked back and forth as if in a hammock.
When it came to the food, we did have to do the cooking and cleaning ourselves, unlike on the land trip, where the meals were prepared for the students, but this added to the overall experience by allowing us to practice important life skills such as collaboration and cooking. According to freshman Naomi Diehl, “Cleanup from meals was a pain, but the actual meals made it so worth it. They were always delicious.” Moreover, cooking on a ship taught us how to ration food and prepare meals for a large number of people. I’m not much of a cook myself, but I had a lot of fun in the galley (the boat’s kitchen) when it was my group’s turn to feed the ship’s passengers. Even cleaning was fun sometimes, especially when we got to spray the deck with a fire hose or water guns.

However, one of the few aspects where the land trip had the upper hand was hygiene. The downside of being on a boat is the lack of available freshwater. Due to this shortage, the toilets smelled especially bad and required extra effort to flush. Also, we only got to shower once on the trip, which cost an astounding amount – $6 for ten minutes! Still, this was a small price to pay for the amazing opportunity of living on a tall ship.

Finally, the sea trip was a more unique experience overall. The land trip was leisurely and closer to everyday life or a “summer camp.” Living on a pirate ship, however, was a once-in-a-lifetime chance. As Diehl said, “When comparing land versus sea, you have to think about opportunities. Sea is so unique, so I feel like that kind of elevates it above, as well as all the experiences you get.”

Those on the land trip got to have fun playing volleyball and ping pong, but anyone can do that at home. It’s not every day you get to help lay anchor chain or watch whales and dolphins from twenty feet away. These were things that I never would have done otherwise. Ultimately, choose the sea trip over the land trip if you are looking for a jaw-dropping experience unlike any other – unless you get really seasick.

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Jujube Hutt, Student Contributor
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