Rancho Santa Fe School considers middle school camp switch

RANCHO SANTA FE — Every year, the sixth-grade class at Rancho Santa Fe School travels up to Camp Marston in Julian. However, for the fall of 2014, Principal Garrett Corduan proposed a different camp site to the board of trustees at the Rancho Santa Fe School District.

Rather than going back to Camp Marston, it appears the children will be headed up to Big Bear to spend a week at the Pali Institute, a camp known to promote teamwork and leadership skills.

Corduan also suggested to the board that seventh- and eighth-graders may also be extended an invitation, as well.

The middle school camp getaway is slated for Oct. 27 to Oct. 31.

During the meeting, Corduan played a short Pali video, which he intends to show current fifth-, sixth-, and seventh-graders. Parents will also have availability to see the video.

“Once everyone has time to process the information, we can send out a survey to see if the current sixth- and seventh-graders show interest in the Pali Institute,” he said.

Corduan pointed out that the Pali Institute provides three core focus areas in its curriculum, which include outdoor education, leadership and science. Pali gives the school the ability to customize their own curriculum for the week, while picking and choosing courses and placing students in preferable areas.

Board member Todd Buchner shared some concern with the age differences between sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders going on the same camping trip and wanted some assurances.

If the seventh- and eighth-graders show interest in the Pali Institute, which is Corduan’s hope, he said he would like to group them by their grade levels at certain points of the day, and at others, mix them up with the other classes.

And each grade would have their separate cabin units.

“The Pali Institute is the camps of all camps,” Corduan said. “The cabins are great, with heated floors, and bathrooms and showers in each cabin; and, the camp instructors are outstanding — all with college degrees with various levels from all over the country and they make a great connection with the students.”

Rancho Santa Fe School District Superintendent Lindy Delaney wanted the board to know that Corduan had once attended the Pali Institute with 200 sixth-graders for one week.

“The kids had a wonderful time and the courses that they went through were extremely rigorous,” he said. “The students were learning, working together to get across obstacles, instantly bonding with each other, and having an amazing time.”

Following the Pali Institute, Corduan noticed how the students were noticeably a stronger unit. The leadership models that were taught offered a powerful lesson for them that year, and the years following, he said.

Corduan reported that the one-week cost to take part in the Pali Institute was $470, including transportation. The camp would gift one scholarship for every 25 students signed on. As for the school, they would have approximately eight to 10 scholarships available.

While planning is still in the early stages, more legwork is ahead including logistics and perhaps lowering the costs per student.

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