ESCAPE to Slide Ranch 2016

ESCAPE to Slide Ranch

Goat milking, a trip through the chicken pen, baking from the organic garden, and lots more…

We have come to love our annual trip to Slide Ranch.  The students are exposed to so many new experiences, that it’s a bit overwhelming for us to try to document the day.  
Our group of 35 kids was broken into four groups, each led by one of the talented Slide Ranch staff.  They take the time to learn kids’ names, and really interact personally with them the entire time we’re there.  We can’t say enough about their program, and their generosity to us.  You can find more about them at

We ended the program sharing a feast of all the things we made: bread, butter, vegetable stir fry, and rhubarb crisp, all on nasturtium leaf plates.  So tasty, and we made it all ourselves!

The last part of a full day was a walk down to the beach for a little tide-pooling, some selfies, and an incredible sunset.

Click above to see the video!  
(on DropBox since YouTube had copyright issues.  
If you prefer, a higher resolution version is here.)


ESCAPE to Mt. Diablo 2016

ESCAPE to Mt. Diablo

To the summit at 4000′, then back down to Rock City

Our first trip of 2016-17 was to Mt. Diablo.  This has been a great first trip for more than the past 10 years.  It is relatively close, we know what to expect, it’s virtually free (thanks, Mt. Diablo!), and we get lots of unstructured time to kick back and get to know each other.  We had a nice group of about 40 kids in 10 cars, and it was a nice start to the year.

The day started early at DeJean, as it takes a little more than an hour to get up to the summit.  Lots of cyclists going up and down the mountain these days.  The view from the top was clear, and you really feel like you’re up high.  Even that is a new experience for a lot of our kids.  No real clouds or fog to speak of, and some of us were disappointed not to see a tarantula out looking for romance.

We headed back down to Rock City in the late morning.  There are several easy scrambles that anyone can do up the sandstone structures.  The small wind caves provide an attainable goal and a nice reward for adventurous kids.  And there are lots of mini “summits” from which kids can look out over the area.  The kids have a couple hours and about a half-mile radius to go out and explore, climb, survey, or just find a shady spot to relax with friends.

We temporarily acquired a “volunteer” alligator lizard which was fun to see up close.  Then we had some ice cream treats, a brief dry ice lesson, and it was time to head home.  Check out the video below to see all of the shots and highlights from the day.

Thanks go out to the many chaperones who gave up their Saturday to give our kids a special experience.

Trip #2 is coming up soon, so we’ll be in touch.  Enjoy the photos and the video, and thanks again for your support.

Click above for the video!


ESCAPE Club is Back!

The ESCAPE Club is back for more!

More fun, more adventure, more new experiences

You know it!  The ESCAPE Club is back for year #17.  Who’s coming with us?  We’ve begun recruiting students and new chaperones at DeJean, and our first meeting is coming up this week.  We’re already making plans for our first trip, next month to Rock City on Mt. Diablo. We’ve added a few email addresses to our distribution list, so if these messages are new to you, welcome!  (Feel free to unsubscribe anytime at the bottom of the page–no hard feelings).

If you’re one of our regular driver/chaperones, you should have already received your first request.  

If you’re interested in sponsoring us financially, the avenues are the same:

  • write a check directly to us
  • donate through the EdFund (tax deductible, they take a small percent for processing)
  • deposit direct to our account using PayPal (to
  • donate via DeJean (be sure to let us know you’re doing this so we can follow up)

More details for supporting us financially are on our website:

We appreciate every dollar that is sent, and be assured that every dollar goes directly to the students and the trips.  We have virtually no overhead costs, and every chaperone and teacher leader is a volunteer.

If you’re not following us on Instagram, you really should be. We are

And if you didn’t catch our year end slideshow video, I’ve posted it here again.  It’s a good one.  Go ahead.  Click on it.


Finally, we’ve got plans for some new ESCAPE Club swag this year. So along with our usual shirts and sweatshirts (with a sweet new design), we’ll also have a few other fun promotional items.  We’ll let you know about those soon.

Thanks for reading, and for all your support and encouragement. Drop us a note sometime, if you haven’t recently.  Jason is back working at DeJean for the time being, so that will help our connection to the students.  We’re looking forward to another great year!

ESCAPE 2014-2015 Wrap-Up

Hi All,

It’s time to wrap up our 15th year of ESCAPE, put a bow on it, and take a break for the summer.  It was a year of new surprises, new exposure, and new resources.  We dodged the weather on some trips, and got pelted by rain and snow on others.  We saw a bobcat for the first time, watched the fog roll through the Golden Gate, returned to Año Nuevo, Alamere Falls and Yosemite for the 15th time, and drove our usual 1000+ miles.

I’ll remember this year as a smaller group, but with a very regular core of kids.  There were about 15 kids that went on at least 8 of the 9 trips. We averaged about 25 kids on the 9 trips.  We had much lower teacher participation than in the past, so we relied more on other sources for chaperones.  And there was an unusually high ratio of 7th to 8th graders.  I’ll attribute that to our irregular presence at DeJean, and the lack of personal contact with students there on a regular basis.  This remains a challenge as Jason and I roam the district in our new positions.

My favorite quote of the year was “You owe me battery percent”.

Some final updates:

  • The year-end slideshow video that summarizes all of our trips is on our YouTube channel here:
  • Our website is back up, after several years in the dark.
  • Hit us up on Instagram if you haven’t already.  Online it’s here:  ESCAPE Club on Instagram  or on your mobile app, our handle is “”.
  • We have a few smaller t-shirts left over (smalls and mediums), and water bottles as well.

It would be a tall task to try to thank everyone who contributed this year.  We have so many who donate faithfully every year, and several more who began giving this year, or made a special contribution.  We are so grateful for your sharing in our mission.  Special thanks goes to my dad, Stan Iwawaki, who hit the pavement and recruited several new donors this year.  And along with those who give financially, we equally appreciate the chaperones who donated their time–eight hours or more–on Saturdays.  This doesn’t happen without them.  Also to our wives, Nicole and Mel, who hold down the fort at home while we romp the countryside with the kids every month.

I do want to say a final thank you to Dr. Sylvia Greenwood, who will be leaving as principal from DeJean.  Her unwavering support over the past five years has made it as easy as it can be, despite all the district hassle and paperwork.  We will miss her.

I am grateful again to be able to serve alongside Jason, without whom my head would spin and explode from all the planning, decisions, hurdles, and challenges.  It is a special person to do all that he does, yet crave none of the credit or attention for it.

We remain humbled to be able to serve and have some small influence in this community.  We are grateful to God for the opportunity, for the capacity, and for the resources.  We’re energized from this year, and are looking forward to getting going again in September.

Thanks for all your kind words of support and encouragement, and we’ll talk to you in the fall!  Go watch the video!