Sometimes, things don’t quite go according to plan.

Today was supposed to be our much-anticipated field trip to Crater Lake National Park. The first time many of my students would have visited Oregon’s only national park. Field trips, in general, are a wonderful opportunity to extend learning beyond the boundaries of the traditional classroom. They give students a chance to see things they haven’t seen before…learn in the context of the real world…hear from new voices.

The Crater Lake field trip, specifically, is one of my favorites because we are so incredibly blessed to live in such close proximity to an astoundingly beautiful natural treasure. I love seeing the look on students’ faces when they see the deep blue color of the water and hear the enthusiasm in their voices as they talk about it. When word came late in the evening of Monday, September 30 that Congress had not been able to avoid a partial government shutdown, it was with sadness that I realized our field trip would have to be cancelled.


The announcement from October 1, 2013 on the official Crater Lake National Park website.

As disappointed as we all were, I was so impressed with the understanding parents and students I faced early Tuesday morning. No grumbling…no complaining…just sadness that we’d have to miss something so wonderful and frustration that the stalemates in Washington DC had disrupted our plans. It was, honestly, a powerful lesson of how government impacts our individual lives.

The first thing we did in lieu of our field trip was to take a trip out to the school’s actual field and measure the depth of Crater Lake – 1,934 feet – horizontally across the grass. We made it to 650 feet before we ran out of space. It was amazing to see how our nation’s deepest fresh water lake dwarfs the campus of our school.

The next thing we did was to grab our laptops, do a little research, and write individual blog posts about the partial government shutdown. You can read student posts by following THIS LINK. The posts are just initial drafts, of course, so you will find a wide range of spelling and grammar issues, along with a need for fact checking. Still, it is interesting to read what the students were thinking.

My hope is that we will be able to reschedule our autumn Crater Lake experience once the federal government is working together more amicably. If not, we can still look forward to visiting the national park in the spring when we’ll get to explore the icy landscape on snowshoes.