For Bitney’s entire history, we have taken all of our students out of school during the first month of school, in September, and gone on what we call Wilderness Week. No, we do not take you into the woods with a canteen and a loaf of bread, though if you did this on your own you would earn much respect. In fact, Wilderness Week is often not out in the actual wilderness. The purpose of this time is to simply be together, off of our campus for an extended period of time (usually 4 or 5 days), and share experiences.
What do we do? We alternate each year in having an all-school experience and then smaller excursions. Our all-school Wilderness Week trips have been at a lodge on Donner Summit, a retreat center here in Nevada City/Grass Valley, the Sonoma Coast and even to the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon.
Our smaller trips on alternating years range from a more hardcore backcountry experience with Mr. Schneider to the rugged east side of the Sierra Nevadas, to camping trips in Mendocino, Sonoma, Marin and Sierra counties. We have had trips that focus on rock climbing and mountain biking, horseback riding, the ocean, the woods, campfires, and shared meals.
The timing of Wilderness Week is no mistake, as the key motivation of the experience being that we are simply together, and this is very important to us.
We love to take advantage of the cultural experiences available to us both locally as well as abroad. We have been known to go to local plays as a school as well as to view Mr. Woods’ Art class installment at the Altar Show at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, the Handmade Bicycle Show, art museums. Mrs. Phillips also takes students every other year abroad to Spain, Argentina, or other Spanish-speaking countries for our Spanish 3/4 students.
Environmental & Social Advocacy
We have an active student body, and there are times when they are able to join the larger community to for conversations, workshops and fun. Our GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) chapter has attended the Youth Empowerment Summit in San Francisco and Bitney’s Sustainable Design class attended the Global Issues Network in San Francisco for workshops on global poverty, education, and environmental issues.
We are know to get out and just have fun and adventure, too. Depending on whether and affordability, we will take trips up to ride at a resort in Tahoe, climb up on Donner Summit, take an extended mountain bike trip, visit a rock-climbing gym or go on hikes locally. These trips, like many others, can be planned well in advance or spontaneous.
Bitney’s Ultimate Frisbee team, one of the only high school teams of its kind in Northern California, plays in tournaments in Napa, the Bay Area, and even southern California.
Science and Other
Depending on what is happening in our classes, a teacher might take a group of students on an educational adventure. Sites have included UC Davis’ Mind Institute, a local bicycle frame-builder, plays, a mural tour, art shows, and any other opportunity that might arise.
Bitney is committed to providing students as much information as possible related to post-secondary education. This could include college/university, but not necessarily so. The sophomore College Trip has been a tradition for the past 7 years, where all of our 10th graders take a trip to the Bay Area to visit public, private, 4-year, 2-year, non-traditional and trade/technical schools as far south as Santa Cruz (UCSC) and as far north as Marin County (Dominimcan University). Our 11th graders will make a one-day trip to UC Davis and CSU Sacramento and the 9th graders take a trek to Sierra College each year.