Field Trip – Tonto National

Lower Cliff Dwelling, Tonto National Monument,...
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Volunteering is a special activity for me. Since I am not working at the moment – I have a bit more time to volunteer.  I was lucky enough to volunteer on my wife’s fourth grade class trip to Tonto National Monument. In the past, this all day event was hard for me to attend. Having to work and all. I wish I would have made time for it all along. This is one very special trip. I had a small group of four students that I was responsible for. Making sure that they did not get lost, learn something, followed the school rules and probably most important is having fun on the trip.

From my vantage point, here is what I got out of the day:

  • Those students in the fourth grade at Haley Elementary are a pretty special bunch. We had to start out the day ahead of the rest of the school day starting. Loaded up the bus’ and drove 2 hours. For me riding on a bus full of students before 8am – I had thoughts that were overall scary. Well, I am here to say, it was a very well behaved group! The trip was actually a complete opposite of my expectations.
  • There was work that needed to be done. Each student had a booklet that helped them to learn much about the desert and the Salado indians. As we walked around on the paths, there were questions that the students needed to answer. My job, was to help if needed. After the first couple of questions, my group was rolling along.
  • Hiking up to the Cliff Dwellings was an adventure for all. It was some good exercise for me, I think my group of students they had little difficulty making it up the slope. We talked about what we saw, what it may have been like living back then and just about the jumping cactus. Those jumping cactus got more attention then truly necessary. Fear of the cactus.. Which probably is a good thing.
  • Once at the dwelling, the ranger explain everything they needed to know about the rules around the dwelling and the history. He pointed out that the lake that we see today, was actually just a little river back when the Salado indians used the dwelling. So, think about hiking up and down for water. The students had time to fill out their booklets doing measurements in the dwelling and trying to figure out how many could sleep in each room. Some moments were spent drawing what they saw from up at the dwelling (art time).
  • We walked back down, insuring that we answered all of the questions that we needed to get. Next up was lunch.. We all sat together and talked about what we saw and then I listened to them just talk about anything and everything fourth graders talk about.
  • There was more work to be done. Reflection time on their overall day in the form of writing an essay. Almost like me know, writing my blog post. Lastly, we watched a video on Tonto and then loaded back up for the trip back to the school. Bus ride like the ride up was all good!

I have to say, I truly enjoyed this trip. I will make sure that I plan on this one – every year that I can. Tonto National Monument is definitely a sight to see. Going up there with some young minds – made it that much more special. My group was awesome! They followed the rules without me having to do anything. They did their work! The said, “this is their best field trip, ever!” I think they had fun… I know, I had fun!

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