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Westminster Woods adventures

My daughter goes to a pretty awesome school where the philosophy is “learning by doing.” And in this spirit, every year, each grade from Kindergarten up, goes on an overnight field trip. For the Kinders it’s just one night, then in 1st and 2nd grade you go for two nights, and so on and so forth, adding days and casting the net further afield. The kids get to experience a little independence away from home, growing their self-confidence, testing friendships, and getting their hands dirty in the big wide world; exploring habitats, plants, and animals that they’ve been studying in class.

This year’s field trip was to Westminster Woods, a camp out by the Russian River and the wild Sonoma Coast. Since I volunteer in the classroom regularly and know these kids well, lucky me, I got to drive my daughter and two girls from her class, then chaperone them for the entire trip. Myself and one other mom also got to be cabin parents to seven 6-7 year old girls, which I can tell you was an experience in futility all its own: I liken it to trying to fill a bucket with a gaping hole in the bottom. Gotta love those girls but, oyy, *I* was tired of hearing my own voice by day 3.

The trip was not without its frustrations. Beyond the expected challenges of corralling multiple, high-spirited and excited children, finding lost hair brushes, panties, tooth-brushes, and the like, I wasn’t incredibly impressed with our guide this year and my own daughter decided that having her mother around wasn’t enough security to stop a couple of meltdowns of epic proportions. The latter I am used to managing alone, not when I’m trying to play mom to a handful of other girls who don’t have a parent around. To say I felt “bested” at times, would be an understatement.

But just like life, even though experiences don’t end up living up to the high expectations you place on them, it doesn’t mean there weren’t memories made and joy shared.

We got to go tide-pooling at Shell Beach then picnic up on the bluff with the most amazing view of the coastline. We did a night hike one night and saw a deer not 30 feet from us stop and stare back with us in that shocked moment of indecision that they have before they bolt. The second night we sang silly songs in front of an (admittedly paltry) camp fire (see, expectations… there was a fire, I could barely see it, let alone feel any heat from it, but it was there.)

I, obviously, took a lot of pictures (huge shock) and a lot of them are of other children on the trip that are shared internally with our class. In respecting that not everyone wants their child’s picture on big wide web, I’m only sharing photos of my own girl for the most part here.

Watching kids explore, learn, and be in wonder, is my favorite reason to pull out a camera. In that, alone, I had a blast.

 

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Westminster Woods adventures documentary child photographer

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A class photo above Shell Beach, taken by one of our tour guides. Yep, I made it into one this year!

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