The Other Night

I woke up under the stars the other night. There were so many and, though I couldn’t nearly see all of them, it reminded me of how pretty, plain beautiful our universe is.

I woke up on a slick rock in a canyon in Utah. I woke up a couple times that night, the rock was pretty slanted and not that comfortable, but I didn’t mind. Everything around me was too beautiful to mind being awake.

I woke up and my nose was cold. Aside from that, I was cozy in my sleeping bag, but the breezy fresh air made my face all cold. But, once again, I didn’t mind.

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I always forget how much I love camping. But then, when I go, I fall in love with it entirely. I love hiking for hours and watching the landscape change around you. I love having nothing to worry about other than making a good fire and finding water to filter. I love to not set foot into a building for days and I love waking up at night underneath the stars, being reminded of how pretty our universe is.

Of course camping can be stressful sometimes, like when the blisters on your feet are burning and you know you still have miles left to go or when you’re wearing all the layers you can possibly wear, but you’re still freezing in your sleeping bag. But, again, I don’t really mind those things all too much. The freeze-dried food, the soaked shoes, the farmer’s tan, it was all worth it once again. Because, the other night, I got to wake up underneath the stars in Utah and it was so beautiful.


Camping Conundrums

At Ojai Valley School, the whole school is like one big family, similar to having around 120 brothers and sisters. One thing that makes the OVS community like this is the annual fall camping trip. This trip is used to introduce the new students to the OVS lifestyle, and involve them in our big family. The trip I went on was to the Eastern Sierras, by Rock Creek Lodge. This trip was anything but a walk in the park with numerous ongoing lightning and thunder storms, the flooding of our tents, and hours of sitting in cars and waiting out the storms.

The first day we got to the campsite our tent was a bit of a wreck, with broken poles and stuck zippers. The whole process of trying to set up the tent took around an hour, trying to hurry with the constant pressure of the storm sneaking up on us. That night, the lightning was less than a mile awhile away and when it would strike, the entire world to us would go white and then back to utter darkness.

On the third day, as we drove into the canyon back to our campsite, it was like a scene straight out of a horror movie; leaving the clear blue skies behind and entering the gray fog covered world ahead. As soon and we drove beneath the ominous sky, the waters came down.

When we arrived back at the campsite, Mr. Risser jumped out of the car and ran to a safe spot from the lightning to meet with the teachers. We were told to stay in the car, safe from the storm. We stayed in the crammed back of the truck for around an hour or two singing songs and eating quesadillas brought to us by the selected brave souls who were fearless enough to go out during the eye of the storm. We finally left the truck when darkness hit and sprang to our tents, straight into our sleeping bags.

Two days before we headed back to school, a select few of us hiked to the most stunning valley we had ever seen. Luscious, green grass spread as far as the eye could see, while crystal clear, blue waters intersected them at the white shores. Picturesque mountains surrounded the valley sheltering us from the world outside. We hiked along a waterfall at the end of our journey, and jumped into the mind-numbingly water. Even though we couldn’t feel our legs from the chilling water, it had no effect on us because we couldn’t bare to look away from our exquisite surroundings.

Although we endured many set backs during our trip, we were all heartbroken to leave, but excited to unfreeze our fingers and toes and take a shower.

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Camping Chaos

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After an incredible summer, I’m back and ready for my senior year.

Coming back to school felt so sudden, especially when I heard the news that there was a mandatory all-school camping trip on the second week of school.

Uh oh.

I give credit to my editor and friend, Kendall Shiffman, for this quote that is oh so accurate: “I’m just a happy camper who hates camping.”

The thought of being consistently dirty for five days makes me cringe, but the decision was already made that I had to go.

On the drive up to Moñtana De Oro, I became warmed up to the idea of camping, and as soon as we arrived I was suddenly overwhelmed with excitement.

The environment was incredibly green, cold, and lush. Camping instantly seemed less terrifying.

As the trip went on, I ventured far out of my comfort zone. I never would have imagined having fun was a possibility on a mandatory camping trip, but that’s exactly what happened.

This camping trip truly taught me one thing: I feel more open-minded about life than I ever have before.


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Seven years ago, I went camping at El Capitan. I was only a fourth grader. Although I was only in fourth grade, camping wasn’t a new experience for me. I had been camping with OVS since Kindergarten.

Just this past week I had the chance to go camping with the fourth graders. Going back to El Capitan was great. The only difference was, this time I had to play the part of an adult and help the kids. But these kids did not need much help.

Unlike most kids, they loved to cook and clean and do everything themselves. When I offered to help, they almost always said no. All I really had to do was sit back and relax at the beach, just building sand castles and swimming all day long.


This past weekend the Juniors went on their class camping trip. Personally, I love camping. Some of the best memories I have are of camping with my family and friends. So of course I was excited for this trip.

We were told it was going to be cold before leaving, and so me being me, I packed my ski clothes. That was probably the one time I’ve over-packed and it’s been a good thing.

We left school Friday afternoon and drove up towards Mammoth, California. The minute we stepped out of the vans after our five-hour drive, I was glad I had stuffed my bag with extra clothes until it was bursting at the seams.

That night, we struggled to get our tent up in the dark. The tent poles would numb our hands, forcing us to take turns trying to set it up. It also didn’t help that the four of us had no clue how to set it up. But with help from our teacher, we were eventually able to get it standing.

The next day we took a trip to the local fish hatchery, which was apparently one of the largest rainbow trout hatcheries in the West. Or something like that. From there, we continued to a much needed trip to the natural hot springs.

Definitely the highlight of the trip right there.

There were two different pools – we called them the party pool and the senior pool. In the party pool they did belly-flops and covered each other in mud. My friends and I were not a part of that. We went to the senior pool (which wasn’t actually a senior pool, we just decided to relax and enjoy it) instead. It was so nice sitting in the hot water and looking at a stunning view, even if the water wasn’t exactly the cleanest.

After the hot springs we headed back to the camp and another freezing night. We attempted to make beef stroganoff for dinner, which didn’t work out too well. As soon as dinner was over we all crawled into our tents and sleeping bags and huddled for warmth.

The next two days we spent hiking. We hiked quite a ways the first day, and the second day we made the short trek to the Devil’s Postpile, and then continued on to Rainbow Falls, which was amazing.

The night after our hike to Rainbow Falls was our last, and we froze our toes off yet again. In the morning, we woke up, packed our bags, and loaded into the vans.

We took a small detour to Pie in the Sky up the road, and had some 0f the best pie I’ve ever had. The Pecan Chocolate Chip Pie was to die for.

After our detour, we loaded back into the vans for the five hour drive back to school – and some much needed showers.

Overall, the trip was fun. We may have been cold and hungry, but the things we did and saw were really cool. We also grew much closer as a class. It was definitely worth it.


French Meadows

When we lived in California, we had a yearly tradition of going camping. Same spot, same people, every year right after school let out for the summer. It was the highlight of my summer, and something I looked forward to throughout the year.

About a week after the beginning of summer vacation, my two brothers, my dad, and I would load up in the truck, along with more supplies than I could ever imagine anyone being able to use. Occasionally, my mom would come with us, but it wasn’t very often that she felt up to the drive.

I can remember being in the car for hours on end, listening to the same CD over and over again, wedged in between my two little brothers intent on landing a punch on the other. They got me instead.

Our car was so full of stuff, from pots and pans to bathing suits and shampoo. As soon as we arrived at our same campsite we had every year, we would unload and wait for everyone else. With three or four different families going, it was first come first served on the places for our tents, so we all tried to get to French Meadows as soon as possible.

Much to the disappointment of myself, and all the other kids, we were not allowed to go down to the beautiful lake until everything was set up and in order. But once that was done, we made a bee line for it.

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Back to Reality

Camping with third graders can be quite the experience. I went with a small group of seven third graders for three days and two nights. Wednesday morning, I woke up earlier than I usually do to get ready to get camping. I was at the Floyd’s house helping Mrs. Floyd pack up food for her camping trip. Mrs. Floyd, Connor, Taylor, and myself all drove down to Lower Campus to meet our classes. I show up to the Third Grade class ready to go and I see some familiar faces. I see Alex, daughter of Mr. Alvarez, Hayden, who was my reading buddy in 7th grade, and Ryan, a kid who went to OVS Summer Camp this past summer.  It was quite funny to see some of their reactions when they figured out that I was going camping with them. The two girls in the class ran up and hugged me, while all the boys stood there with an expression of disappointment on their faces. We load up the truck with camping supplies and pile into the bus for the hour and a half drive to El Refugio State Beach.

We arrive at our campsite for the next three days with excitement. Personally, I think I was more excited than the kids were. Basically the first day we just set up our tents and then hung out at the beach all day. We had burgers for dinner and sat around the campfire doing improv. I sat in my tent reading while all the kids were playing in their tents before bed.

The next morning I woke up to the sound of a freight train. I wasn’t very happy about that. We had eggs and sausage for breakfast. We packed up for the day to hang out with the fourth graders at another beach. It was really fun. All the kids got to hang out with their friends from fourth grade. I also got to hang out with my friend Connor all day Thursday.  After the beach, we had quesadillas for dinner and s’mores around the campfire. We had an early night that night. I was so tired I don’t even remember getting into my sleeping bag.

The next morning we ate breakfast and packed up- tents and all. Then we had a last walk down the beach before lunch. We got back to camp, had hot dogs for lunch and put all of our stuff back in the truck to go home.

The drive back seem so long. It was actually shorter than the one on the way there. I didn’t want to go back to school because I didn’t really want to do homework, but I did do some while I was camping. Anyways, we get back on campus and unpack and all of that. I’m waiting for Mrs. Floyd with Connor and Taylor. Taylor and Connor were exhausted and then there was me just like “Oh hey I’m perfectly fine, I actually want to go back.” All they said was “Jenna, you had seven kids.” Anyways, we drove back up the hill and I was glad to be able to see my roommate and my friends again. Everyone was still in sports when I got to the dorms, so I just relaxed, took a shower and did some homework. I walked downstairs to get some water and I find Nicole, my lovely and sweaty roommate who just came back from volleyball practice. She attacked me and gave me a big hug. At that point, it reminded me why I go to OVS- for the people I love and the people that love me. We are all one big family here and it is not the same when one person is gone.

(Sorry that this is like a week after camping, but better late than never.)