When my United States History teacher, Mr. Davis, had told us at the beginning of the year that he takes all of the A.P. students to Monterey, California, I was dreading it. Going with forty students on a camping trip for three days and two nights seemed like a nightmare to me, a sixteen year old girl from Jackson, California. I had never enjoyed camping before; I blamed being surrounded by forests and nature for my entire life. However, this experience changed my narrow perspective.
When we finally reached our camping site in Monterey, I was ecstatic; being in a tiny car, just a little bit bigger than a smart fortwo, with five people for several hours isn’t exactly my idea of a fun time. We all scrambled out and immediately began setting up our tents, because everyone was already finished with theirs; my group had managed to get lost on the way to the site and instead ended up at a court house. Not exactly a great beginning.
After about five attempts of getting our tent set up, my small group of friends all stared at each other blankly; now what? What could we possibly do until dinner? This was one of the reasons why I didn’t enjoy camping; the list of things to do is usually incredibly small.
Luckily, there was something to keep us occupied not only for a couple of hours, but for most of our trip: our camp site had a kid’s play structure right smack-dab in the middle of it. A little cautious at first, we all wandered down to the structure, attempting to remain like the mature, eleventh grade, Advanced Placement students we were. That didn’t last for long.
We played for hours on that set, chasing each other, giggling, swinging, climbing, and sliding. After every meal, we would go running back to that play set, and begin having the childish fun that none of us had experienced for many years. That wasn’t all we did, however; there were learning aspects to our trip. Just not exactly the learning aspects Mr. Davis was trying to teach us.
Out on Fisherman’s Wharf, there are two rows of shops that are directly aimed at tourists. Like the gullible students we were, we visited every single one of them and that kept us content. It didn’t keep the rest of our group content however, so not only did we go to Fisherman’s Wharf one day; we went two days in a row. So what could we possibly do now, since there were no play structures about? We had done everything imaginable already, right?
My friends and I decided to bond with nature. Seeing one seal out, our childish natures returned, and we dashed through a shop to reach a lower level, closer to the murky water. We didn’t care about the water; we were too focused on what was swimming around in it.
Seals and Sea Lions held our attention for nearly two hours. Not only did we watch them, we named them all, created a special bond, cheered them on, teased them, laughed, and had some of the best moments of our lives.
All in all, it was a perfect trip. Sure, I learned about Californian history, visited historic land sites, but I gained real world experience that I could never have learned in a text book. I learned that people don’t need expensive electronics or fancy hotels to have a good time. All people need is a close group of friends, some of nature’s cutest animals, and a play structure designed for little kids.
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