Middle School relocates retreat sites due to federal government shutdown

Lauren Sonnenberg

Due to the federal government shutdown, there is only one retreat option for the eighth and ninth grade classes, rather than each grade dividing into two groups. This is the first time in 22 years that each class has attended retreat as one group.

Ninth grade retreat is usually split between wthe Upper River and the Lower River on the Colorado River.  Eighth graders can usually opt to attend retreat at Joshua Tree National Park instead of at Alpine Meadows, located in the San Bernardino Mountains, with the majority of their class.

However, Joshua Tree National Park and part of the Colorado River were closed along with the rest of the National Parks in the United States when the federal government shut down Oct. 1. Due to the government shutdown,  only “essential” workers continued to receive pay.

Joshua Tree was shut down by the budget impasse in the government because it is run by the National Park Service, a United States federal agency that manages national parks.

The 60 students who signed up to attend retreat at Joshua Tree instead joined the rest of the eighth grade at Alpine Meadows.

Because the upper part of the Colorado River is run by the Bureau of Land Management, a government agency within the US Department of the Interior that administers public lands, ninth grade retreat has been changed so  that all ninth grade students will camp at Walter’s Camp and Martinez Lake, both on the Lower River.

Since the government shutdown 15 days ago, the administration has been aware of the possibility that students would not be able to attend retreat at either location, but “we waited until [Oct. 9] at noon to make the decision , hoping that our elected officials could compromise,” middle school dean Paul Mastin said.

Parents were notified of the change Oct. 9.

Though Mastin sees the change as a chance to provide a bonding experience for the  class, some students do not share this sentiment.

“I chose to attend Joshua Tree retreat because I wanted to go backpacking with my friends, and have bonding time without any electronics,” Elly Choi ’18 said. “When I found out that retreat was moved, I was really disappointed.”