Before schools got out in June, we had an opportunity to work with a couple of school groups who came to Pipe Spring National Monument. Because the monument is so remote, I did not expect to see any school groups. But we had a group of 40 kids our first week here and another group of 80 our second week. Field trips are a favorite of mine because I love to get kids excited about our national park sites.
Ranger Pat Driscoll is the Education Coordinator at Pipe Spring and he did an excellent job setting up the field trips. We got schedules and assignments more than a week ahead of time. Each group that came was divided into subgroups of about 10 kids each. Then the subgroups cycled through various living history stations. After going through the stations they had a quick tour of the fort.
The first group that came was from a charter school in Colorado City. The kids had on the typical private school uniform, but some of the teachers and parent chaperones were dressed in the FLDS uniform. On that day I worked with Ranger Sara at the telegraph station. All of the kids were given a “telegraph” and could send messages to one another in Morse code. Some of the kids caught on right away. Others had a hard time translating or understanding the directions.
The second group was from the public school in Fredonia, our “local” kids. Some of them live on the Kaibab Paiute Reservation around us. So most of them had been here before. But field trips are special, even if you live next to the place. With this group I worked with Ranger Miranda at the Dairy Maid station. We poured cream into small canning jars and the kids made their own butter. Unfortunately they couldn’t take it home, but they had lots of fun shaking until the butter formed. I was surprised at how quickly the butter appeared.
Ranger Pat came in early and set up everything we needed for each station. It was wonderful to have everything we needed already prepared. Other stations included lassoing a PVC “cow,” making cordage out of yucca, and throwing an atlatl.
Although we were tired at the end of the rotations, the field trips were great. I loved how organized everything was and I love the energy of the children. They are eager to learn as long as the learning is fun.