Travel Club students at Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay are set to learn Spanish, cook their first gallo pinto, and brush up on tarantulas.
For their big trip in May 2018, the Travel Club recently chose a destination: Costa Rica.
Teacher and travel superfan Lorrie Joron says students also considered Greece, or Amsterdam and Paris, but Costa Rica won out for its lower cost and many, many wilderness areas — the country of 4.7 million has the most protected parks of any in the world.
Joron led another Travel Club trip to Costa Rica in 2008, and one to London and Paris in 2006.
“It’s a huge confidence builder for kids,” she said.
“It’s the first time away from family for some students, and from the country.”
In London and Paris, students climbed St. Paul’s Cathedral and watched a sunset from the Eiffel Tower.
On the 2008 trip to Costa Rica, they zip-lined through the tree canopy of Monteverde and flew out over a valley from a ‘Tarzan’ swing perched on a cliff.
Most students told Joron the highlight of that first trip was the afternoon they spent playing soccer and clapping games at an elementary school for children of plantation workers.
The Haida Gwaii students brought school supplies, plus a new soccer ball that the Costa Rican students had no trouble chasing even as the visiting high schoolers wilted in the 40 C heat.
So far, Joron said 22 mostly senior students are interested in going, and many are excited about the chance to use their Spanish — a few will take a Grade 11 Spanish course to prepare. Besides outdoor adventures, the trip will include a visit to big-city San José and, Joron hopes, a chance to visit another school for a Haida/Costa Rican cultural exchange.
Students on the trip will be up and about during school hours, she added. In some of the places they are staying, there is also no cell phone service or even electricity after 9 p.m.
Asked if the evening lights-out helped keep a curfew, Joron shook her head.
“It doesn’t work — once they’re in their rooms, they’re still up to 3 a.m. talking,” she said.
“I tried to get them up at 5:30 in the morning to hear the howler monkeys, but nobody budged.”
Fundraising for the trip will take a lot of effort and a few bright ideas — Joron said the students will put on a Costa Rican dinner in the new year, and they have already taken one order of Christmas chocolates, too.