Monday, May 22, 2023

West Texas 2023

Every year our middle school classes take a class trip... I've taken groups to NASA, Austin, San Antonio, Sky Ranch, etc.  Our 8th Grade trip starting in 2017 was taking kids out to Ft Davis (waaayyy West Texas) to see some cool Texas things they may not otherwise see and visit the McDonald Observatory.  We did that trip in 2017, 2018, 2019 and then again in 2020 and were SO GLAD to get to take them back this year!  It was kind of surreal because the last time we were there was in March of 2020... we got back from the trip, went on Spring Break and then never went back to school.  CRAZY!

We loaded up on two charter busses and pulled out of the school at 5 am. 

My road trip snack of choice is always Twizzlers.  

We made one quick pit stop and got to Balmorhea State park a little before 11 a.m.

It's serioulsy the coolest spot - the water is super clear and stays 72 - 78 degrees year round and it's about 25 feet deep.  There are a couple of diving boards and we pretty much just let the kids loose for a few hours to play, eat their lunch (they had to bring a sack lunch) and hang out.  (I pulled this pic off the state park website)

There was a HUGE turtle that was pretty entertaining ;). Can you spot it???

We loaded them up around 3:00 and headed to Prude Ranch where we were staying (maybe another 45 minutes or so?), got everyone unloaded and let them get settled and play a bit at camp.  We had a smaller group of girls this year and we all fit in one cabin room together which was fun.  

Couple of questions.... no, there isn't a/c.... well... there was one window unit fan thing but it kept shorting out and didn't really do anything.  It was up in the eighties during the day but because it's in a dessert was down in the fifties at night.  

There's little to no cell phone reception out there but there is a touch of WiFi on the ranch so I coudl Facetime with Mason, G and Dave ;)

I'm convinced that the "stickers" have never ever been this bad.  They were out of control this year!

The kids played on the slack line, volleyball court and nine-square area and then we all headed down to dinner.

After dinner we split into two groups and had a reptile/education class with Bret Welch which was super fun.


We headed back to the cabin area and let the kids play some more and then wrangled all those girls through getting ready for bed with two showers and sinks ;)

The next morning we took our annual Prude Ranch sign photo after breakfast...

... and then headed to McDonald Observatory where we sat in on a sun lecture...

and got to head up to two different mountain tops to see two different telescopes.

After that half of our group went to Ft Davis to explore and hike and the other half went back to the ranch to split up into smaller groups and do a trail ride.

We had some free time before dinner and it was time for buzz cuts ;) So earlier this Spring a "buzz cut" trend started making it's way through 8th grade and all these boys were like, "I'd totally get a buzz cut" and I was jokingly calling their bluff by saying, "if you have your parent give me permission I'll buzz your hair in the quad at school"  

After getting several of these emails I convinced then to hold off until we went on the trip and so after getting permission from parents and having boys sent with clippers it was time.  

Sharon, Dr E and I all took turns and I have a feeling that this will come up again in Senior memories ;) hahahaha

We hung out for a bit...

... and then got everyone loaded on the stagecoach for our cookout dinner.

They took us out to a big field with an outdoor kitchen area and fire pit and the kids ran around, played football, hung out with the horses, ate burgers and then made s'mores. 

And if you want to know what it's like to ride a chuckwagon with 50 8th graders here you go...

After our cookout dinner we headed back to the cabin area and the kids played nuke 'em and a few other games until it was pitch black and then it was time for our star party.  We go up on this hilly area and an astronomer meets us out there with his telescope and it's just the coolest experience.  You never know what you're going to see and every year is different.  This year we were sitting there and the next thing you know we saw Starlink which was super cool! 

Friday morning we were up and at 'em early with cabin cleanout and bus loading.  I took this picture to share with Sharon (who was down at the dining hall) that this was literally the cleanest girl cabin I've ever had on any trip EVER.  I was hanging out out on the porch and they told me they were done and I thought FOR SURE there would be snacks, shampoo, misc clothing items, etc. and there was literally nothing.  It was PERFECT and I could have cried ;) hahaha

A little tired, a lotta dusty, ready to take a big ol' nap on the bus ;)

We drove a couple of hours to Monahans State Park where we released the kids to sand sled...

After a couple of hours we loaded up to finish up the 6 hour drive home and after a whole lotta Taylor Swift and snacks we were HOME!

If you're in the area and thinking about heading out West I highly recommend it!  Now to answer a couple of questions....

- We don't allow the kids to take cell phones... this allows for all kinds of fun hanging out and socializing and they end up making up games, telling stories, etc.  We have a GroupMe set up to keep the parents informed and we always have kids talk about how GLAD they are to not have their phones ;)

- The trip cost is included in their tuition

- There are a few teachers who are 8th grade sponsors that chaperone and then we will take additional teachers/coaches if needed depending on the number of kids

- No... teachers don't get paid any extra to chaperone these trips ;) It's A LOT of work to chaperone these kinds of trips (making arrangements for your personal kids at home, making sub plans for your other grade level classes that aren't on the trip, hitting the ground running when you get home, etc.) so if your kid goes on a school trip PLEASE take a minute to send the teacher chaperones a thank you! It goes a long way!!!

- We bring our own snacks/water - I send out a signup genius and parents donate snacks of all kinds and we have a huge IKEA bag full for each of the buses and then in our cabins so the kids have plenty to munch on if the food isn't their favorite.  They can also bring their own snacks.  We also brought about 40 gallons of our own water with us (the 2.5 gal ozarka jugs with the spigot) so everyone can refill water bottles anywhere we go.

If you have any other questions please don't hesitate to leave them in the comments or send me an email (

1 comment :

  1. I am 41 years old and did this exact trip when I was in the fifth grade. I STILL can remember the names of my two teachers who did this. Girl, you're making memories for these kids that they will still remember THIRTY YEARS from now. Amazing. I love this so much!


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