Submitted by Denair Unified School District
Six dozen sixth-graders from Denair Middle School are spending a week in the woods at the Foothills Education Outdoor Center, learning about geology, ecology and natural history. The camp has been a popular extension of the students’ science curriculum for decades and something they eagerly anticipate.
This year, the 72 students were accompanied by DMS teachers Linda Richardson, Patty Guillen and David Rodriguez as well several Denair High School students, who attend as camp counselors.
Students arrived at the 143-acre campus Monday and return Friday afternoon. The lessons are conducted by the Foothills staff naturalists and are very interactive. Students take nature hikes during the day and night, learn about the Me-Wuk culture and have trips to nearby Calaveras Big Trees State Park and Moaning Cavern Adventure Park.
Boys and girls sleep in separate cabins and share meals in a large cafeteria. At night, there is dancing and presentations around a campfire.
This year, six-graders from Hart-Ransom School in west Modesto are at the camp at the same time as the Denair students.
“We are one of the few schools that are able to attend for the full five days of camp,” said Denair Principal Aaron Delworth, who enthusiastically recalls the camp from his own days as a sixth-grader in the 1980s.
The $284 cost per student for a weeklong stay – paid for by parents — has persuaded many school districts to reduce the number of days spent in Sonora. Not Denair. Delworth said students hold fund-raisers to reduce their families’ costs. The Parents Supporting Education group underwrites a portion of the fee. Other parents and community members make contributions, Delworth said. And there are scholarships for some families available from the Stanislaus County Office of Education.