Observations: Not All Classrooms Have Walls

"To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake, it is necessary to stand outside in the cold."

                                   - Aristotle

February in the Sun Valley area served up one snow storm after another. While the powder hounds among us get a little weak in the knees when the snow just keeps coming, relentless snow can monkeywrench the best laid plans.

It's tempting to throw your skis and backcountry gear into your truck, car, or van and head out where all that fresh powder is just waiting to be skied. But, it's vital to understand the snow conditions before heading into the hills—or "know before you go." Our Outdoor Program Upper School Winter Trips were scheduled to run the last week of February, but snow conditions dictated that we go with our Plan B. Rest assured, that did not mean stay inside, out of the elements, and in front of one screen or another. Rather, that meant staying up-to-date with snow and road reports, conferencing with the experts on our team, and asking faculty, staff, students, and families to be flexible. Our top concern is always student and staff safety, so as Wednesday dawned, we considered the most recent snow and road reports and headed for the areas outside of avalanche danger.

The trip pictured here was a backcountry ski trip, and like always, we invested time in talking about snow safety and teaching or reviewing with our students how to evaluate the snowpack. While our plans to stay out in yurts or snow caves for the winter trips proved to be too risky, it was nice to get out into the snow and the elements for a few days. It's true that not all classrooms have walls and our Winter Trip cycle is just one example of how we live that philosophy.