This October the Class of 2024 and the Class of 2025 embarked on a week-long camping trip on San Juan Island. The trip took place during the first week of our Ecology of the Salish Sea block, which meant we had the opportunity to begin our study of ecology in-person. There were six key components of our trip: camping on a horse farm, kayaking in the Salish Sea, doing a service project for butterfly conservation on San Juan Island, visiting the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, exploring life in the Salish Sea via rowboats at the UW labs, and whale watching at Lime Kiln Point State Park. Each of these adventures showed us the beauty and diversity of all the animals, plants, and other organisms that call San Juan Island or the Salish Sea home.

Throughout our trip our whole group made some amazing memories together. One memory that stands out is when we saw a Minke Whale at Lime Kiln Point State Park. During the sunset our group found spots around the lighthouse to sit and enjoy the view. As the sun disappeared behind the mountains, the fin of the Minke Whale appeared. For many minutes we all observed in awe as the small whale swam up and down through the waves. Then it vanished, and we all thought that was it.

Moments later, the whale popped up to the surface, this time only fifty or so feet from the shoreline. The Minke Whale continued its journey through the kelp beds that lined the shore for ten or so minutes. The best part was when we were all running up and down the shoreline chasing glimpses of the whale. We were all connected in that moment as we chased after the whale together.

Another special part of the trip that we all loved was staying on a beautiful horse farm for a week. We stayed at Free Horse Farm, about 15 minutes inland from Friday Harbor. Throughout the week there was always someone, often many people, playing with the chickens, spending time with the horses, or running around and laughing with the kids who live on the farm. This was a great place to stay because the owners trusted us to roam around freely and explore everything we wanted to. We could hangout with the horses any hour of the day, even without the owner there. We could stay up late in the fields stargazing, and we could joke around in the cozy hay barn anytime. A highlight was hanging out around the fire at the farm, playing games all together, laughing and joking, and just enjoying our amazing surroundings. All in all, the San Juan Trip was fun, beautiful, and all around awesome!

-Ruby, Grade 12 Student

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