PARASHANT NATIONAL MONUMENT
Urban Youth Explore The Park
For a moment, they may have thought they were back in L.A., as their rental vehicle was up on blocks (actually rocks) with three of the tires flattened, but something was very different. These were not the urban streets of southern California but instead a remote stretch of desert on the Arizona Strip.
This is how the week started off for a group of seven students and four chaperones from the greater Los Angeles area, San Gabriel Valley and Mexico who came to Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument as part of a program created to introduce urban youth to the great outdoors. The Outward Bound Adventures group spent a week in early August exploring the monument and surrounding federal and state lands.
While the vehicle was being repaired, the students took on an unplanned project removing trash from lava caves in nearby Snow Canyon State Park. They were sworn in as Junior Rangers in appreciation for their work at the park.
Eventually the group arrived in Parashant and met with staff to learn about the geology of northern Arizona, local ranching history, Paiute history and rock writing, astronomy, orienteering and survival skills, and career opportunities in land management. For many of the students, this was their first experience in a remote location. They survived the challenges – three flat tires at once, monsoon rain storms, high elevations, isolation and limited connectivity and communications with the outside world. The students also experienced the wonders of Parashant and were amazed at the butterscotch scent of ponderosa pine, the endless vistas and the dark night sky filled with stars.
Superintendent Rosie Pepito met with the students and served as a great role model, having graduated from the same high school that the OBA program is based at and several of the students are currently attending.
“We may have had a bit of a rough start but we sure ended on a high note and provided the students with an experience they won’t soon forget,” she said. “This adventure gave them an opportunity to encounter not only a different landscape but also a different culture.”
This was the inaugural event of a three-year partnership formed between Parashant National Monument and Outward Bound Adventures.