Sugar Bowl Academy takes transformative field trips
TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Sugar Bowl Academy student-athletes last fall were presented a menu of five experiential-learning trips custom designed by Academy teaching faculty to enrich the spring teaching and learning experience.
On the menu were a scuba-diving trip to study the Monterey Bay ecosystem, a study of the history of Mormonism in the United States featuring a trip to Salt Lake City, a rock-climbing and bouldering trip that took students through one of California’s gold-mining ghost towns and into the Owens Valley, a trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, and a hiking and camping trip to experience California’s Lost Coast. Students were assigned to one of the five trips based largely on their stated preferences.
Students and coaches returned to campus after four nights away energized by their experiences.
“You would think they would be worn out, but they just all seemed excited and energized,” said SBA faculty member Peyton Jobe, who was serving as faculty on duty when the various trips made it back to the Academy’s residential site Tuesday afternoon. “They were all talking in excited tones about their experiences, asking each other about their trips and sharing what they had learned along the way.”
Groups met periodically throughout the school year to discuss readings related to their learning experiences. The Shakespeare Fest group read “The Taming of the Shrew” and incorporated discussion points from Harold Bloom’s “The Invention of the Human” concerning the two plays the student-athletes saw in Ashland, “Shrew” and “King Lear.”
The Monterey Bay group read Jacques Cousteau’s “Selections from the Living Sea” and earned diving certifications along the way. The Salt Lake group read Jon Krakauer’s “Under the Banner of Heaven” and some shorter selections on Joseph Smith and the Latter Day Saints’ travels across the United States. The Lost Coast group read Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods” to prepare themselves for their nature-immersion experience. The rock climbers learned about the history of water development in the Owens Valley by the city of Los Angeles through a reading of “Cadillac Desert” by Marc Reisner, and about California geology through a text written by UC Davis’s Bruce Pauly.
For SBA student-athlete Julia Puchkov, the Salt Lake trip was both fun and informative.
“The Mormon temple in Salt Lake was really beautiful, and it was really interesting to see how the streets in the city are organized on a grid and numbered based on their proximity to the temple, and how that became the basis for planning so many other cities settled in Utah.
“And racing through the salt flats in the UTVs was so much fun.”
“The objective is to prepare students to be active citizens in a broader community,” said Academy “Trips” organizer Andy Giordano. “Trips take all year to prepare and a week to actuate, but have a lasting impact on students, as immersive experiences tend to be most transformative.”