Gabriela Contreras's picture
2018 Yosemite Olympic (YOlympic) Alcoa Scholars!
Gabriela Contreras
August 10, 2018 - 11:29am
It's been a busy but successful beginning to the second 2018 Alcoa Scholars class, which we've dubbed YOlympic! All 39 Scholars successfully flew into SFO airport on Sunday. The early arrivals spent the day exploring the coastline near the NatureBridge Golden Gate campus and getting to know one another. 
On Monday morning, our YOlympic Scholars played a few get-to-know-you games before beginning their culture shares. Scholars from Hungary taught us the Hungarian alphabet as well as different words and phrases that are common in Hungarian. Did you know that, in Hungarian, to say that the phrase "The owl telling the sparrow he has a big head" is equivalent to the U.S. phrase of the "pot calling the kettle black"? The Australian Scholars shared Vegemite and delicious Carmello Koalas with the group, and the Icelandic Scholars brought shark for us to try and taught us about the 13 Santa Clauses from national folklore in Iceland. 
Later on Monday, 49 NatureBridge Alcoa Scholars and Staff made NatureBridge history by being the first NatureBridge group to ever fly as part of programming. Due to the concern of worsening air quality and road closures from the Ferguson Fire in Yosemite, we decided to move this year's Yosemite Alcoa Scholars program to our NatureBridge campus in Olympic. To make the move, the 49 Staff and participants boarded one plane from SFO to Sea-Tac airport in Seattle. The flight went smoothly and we arrived in Seattle at 7:30 pm. We then boarded a charter bus for Olympic National Park and arrived on campus around 11:30 pm. 
On Tuesday, our YOlympic Scholars woke up along the shores of beautiful Lake Crescent. They spent the day doing teambuilding activities in their trail groups and exploring the forest of Barnes Point. In the afternoon, they met with Chris Morgan, Science and Education manager for NatureBridge to learn about the different science tools that they could use in the science investigations that they will conduct while backpacking through Olympic National Park.
Wednesday was all about preparing gear for the backpacking trip. Educators and students worked together to check their personal gear (like clothing and sleeping bags), distributed their group gear (like tents and food), and double-checked that all of their tents and stoves were in working order. That evening, they participated in one of the favorite activities of the NatureBridge Olympic campus, canoeing in our 3 Salish-style canoes on the lake. 
On Thursday morning, our trail groups double-checked all of their gear, and then boarded our buses and departed for their trailheads. The 4 hiking groups will spend the next seven days backpacking through Olympic National Park. They will learn how to backpack, cook their food in the backcountry, learn more about the place through science investigations, and get to know each other better as well. 
We can't wait to hear their stories when they return!