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Foundation Spotlight: Idyllwild School Outdoor Education Booster Club

By in Press Enterprise on September 15, 2017

By Rebecca K. O'Connor

A small group of Idyllwild parents continues a long tradition of immersing every local middle school student in exciting science excursions.

The Idyllwild School Outdoor Education Booster Club has been raising money and providing scholarships to outdoor education program field camps for nearly thirty years. Each of the middle school classes at Idyllwild School are given the opportunity to attend a field trip with all of their classmates.

The programs offer in-depth, hands-on experiences that take place over several days. They are meant to promote scientific literacy, personal empowerment, and interpersonal cooperation among students. According to Dawn Sonnier who writes grants for the club, they are also a lot of fun.

“I’m a high school counselor, so when these kids enter high school I see that they are really motivated to enter the science in the math fields,” said Sonnier. “Hands-on experience is really life changing for them as well as being away from home.”

Sixth grade students spend three days camping in Joshua Tree where they explore the terrain and learn about topics such as geology, erosion, plate tectonics, and water conservation.
Seventh graders take a 3-day trip to Catalina where they delve into biology. The trip includes snorkeling, dissection of a squid, studies of kelp and marine life, and a hike to study the island ecology.

The last trip to Astrocamp gives 8th graders hands-on experience with astronomy and engineering. Students learn to use the sophisticated astronomical facilities at the camp to study the night sky. They also conduct experiments in rocketry and build models underwater to experience construction in zero gravity.

“There’s a ‘wow’ factor,” said Sonnier. “Just putting a snorkel on your face and seeing the world underneath it changes the way they see things. Their eyes are open to a whole new world and you see something click.”

Sonnier, whose son and daughter […]    

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