By Camryn Williams ’22 and Frances Ross ’22
A third of the eighth grade class went camping in Joshua Tree National Park during Retreat Week. Activities varied from backpacking through the desert, rock-climbing, scrambling and sleeping under the stars. Students said they bonded on this more “rustic” retreat option, and that they really enjoyed life in the desert.
“I loved Joshua Tree because it was so beautiful, and I got to make some new friends. Also, the food was pretty good, too!” Isabella Welsh `22 said .
The students were divided into eight groups. One night, half of the groups went on an overnight backpacking trip, while the other groups stayed in camp. The next night, they switched activities. In camp, students had a lot of free time to bond with their group and other groups and played various games together before joining some friends for dinner. During night time, the students would walk down to campfire, where they shared jokes, stories and made s’mores.
“Most students say that Joshua Tree is one of their favorite retreats and they really enjoy it because there’s rock climbing, hiking and really cool bouldering, giving them the opportunity to bond with each other out in the desert, doing things they usually wouldn’t do in Los Angeles,” trip coordinator and science teacher David Cleland said.
During the night, the students hiked, played group bonding activities, looked at constellations and slept under the stars.
While hiking, two groups of students had an encounter with the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.
“My favorite part about retreat was when we got to meet former President Obama. It was insane because when we saw this person stepping out of a car, we didn’t recognize him at first, but when we did we were unbelievably excited and in shock,” said Gisele Stigi ‘22.
These two groups ran into the former president while he was hiking with his wife and former first lady, Michelle Obama, for their anniversary. Peter Shen ‘22 had an interesting occurrence with Obama.
“Meeting Obama was an amazing experience. When the five-or-so cars first showed up, I was in the restroom. While I was in the restroom, our group naturalist said ‘Hurry up, Peter, the President is waiting for you.’ At first I didn’t believe him and thought that he was just trying to get me to finish faster. When I came out, I saw Barack and Michelle Obama and I was really shocked. There was a secret service guy standing next to the restroom and he said something into his mic. Sounded something like ‘Mr. President, the bathroom’s clear,’” Shen said.