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Middle School students bond during campouts
Middle School students bond during campouts

There's a special kind of bonding that happens when you go camping with your friends. You're sleeping in close proximity, making and eating food together, gathering around the campfire for s'mores—disconnecting from technology while connecting with each other.

That was the basic idea behind two camping experiences for Santa Catalina Middle School boys and girls on September 29-30. "We love being coed, but we were looking for opportunities for the kids to also have that different kind of bonding that comes in a single-sex environment," said Middle School Dean Anthony Schipper.

A group of boys headed down to Arroyo Seco in the Los Padres National Forest, along with teachers Chris Avedissian, Charlie Dorf, Ross Dillon, and Schipper. As they hiked upriver, Schipper said he saw the boys gradually let loose and embrace the adventure. At first unsure of what they could do, they ended the day cliff diving into a swimming hole and playing flashlight games in the dark.

There were no campgrounds available that were large enough to accommodate the girls, but that didn't stop them. They set up tents on Catalina's athletic field for a semi-glamping experience. They had a pool party and watched two movies in a makeshift outdoor theater, Hotel Transylvania and Hidden Figures; popped popcorn, roasted hot dogs, and made s'mores over two fire pits; and had lots of fun with team-building activities.

The camping experiment worked for both groups, giving them all a chance to connect with their classmates as well as their teachers. "Everyone loved it," Schipper said.

See more camping photos on SmugMug.

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