ESCAPE to Rock City 2018

Our First trip of the year–up to the summit, and then all over Rock City…


The ESCAPE Club is rolling along, and we took our first trip of the year in October. About 30 students gathered at DeJean and piled into our chaperones’ cars. We headed east through the Caldecott Tunnel, and up to the Mt. Diablo summit at just under 4000 ft. There’s a nice little museum there, and we hung out for about a half hour and enjoyed the views under clear skies.

The highlight of the day is always our time at Rock City, about halfway back down from the summit. It’s mostly unstructured time for exploration, playing games, climbing up the rocks and into small wind caves, and hiking on short trails around the area. It’s pretty tough to get lost, and there are so many fun things to see and experience.

We didn’t see any tarantulas, as it’s toward the end of the season, but we caught our annual lizard. You can probably imagine it was pretty traumatized after being passed around from teenager to teenager, but we figure if it can’t avoid getting caught by us, it’s probably not going to last long in the wild anyway.

We wrapped up the day with an ice cream treat (thanks to a couple pounds of dry ice), and headed back home. This trip is always a nice opportunity to get to know kids–their names, their personalities, their sense of experience and adventure, etc. Thanks to our fantastic group of chaperones, as usual, and to YOU for reading this far!

Enjoy the quick video below, if you like. And stay tuned for details from our November trip.



Of course, there’s a video. Check it out and get the whole story here!


Back for another year of adventures…


ESCAPE Club Family,

We’re indeed back at it for year #19 of the ESCAPE Club at DeJean. Kids are coming to meetings, and we’ve already been on our first trip. (The trip summary email is coming soon! We’re of course a little behind already.) We’ve got nine trips planned again, and several dates are already on the calendar. This year’s shirt design is coming along (still in draft form shown above–don’t make any final judgments!). So as you can see, we’ve got a nice group of kids, and things are really moving.

Neither Jason nor John is working on site at DeJean this year, so that will create its own set of challenges. But we’ve got another great team of teachers to support us, chaperone trips, and take care of details while we’re away from campus.

We’re still meeting weekly after school to prep for trips, learn a little ecology, history, and geography, and hang out together. The foos ball table is rocking, as usual, and Connect Four and ping pong are making their appearances. The principal, Mr. McGee even stops in once in a while to take a break from his busy day!

Another challenge has been trying to up our game a little in our lesson planning at weekly meetings, in particular to try and support new NGSS standards. Kids are creating their own models to represent data, designing solutions to problems, and doing more thinking in our lessons than in recent years. That’s been a difficult, but fun challenge to work on as the year has begun. Some examples are below. Students were asked to represent the percentage of plastic water bottles that actually get recycled, vs. those that go to landfills.



We’re looking forward to another great year, and we’re glad to have you all along again. If you’d like to chaperone any of the trips, please let us know. If you’d like to visit us on a Thursday afternoon, we’d be glad to have you. And if you’d like to support us financially, we always appreciate it. All the usual channels for donation are open, but let us know if you need more information.

We’ll be in touch soon with summaries from our first trips!

ESCAPE 17-18 wrap up

Wrapping up the year, and one last video…

Our final slideshow video of the year– Look out ’cause here we come!

June was a whirlwind, as usual, so we’re finally getting around to wrapping up year 18 of the ESCAPE Club, and putting a bow on it. The year followed a similar pattern to past years, with a solid core of students throughout, others who drifted away in the middle of the year, and some who jumped in late. We were grateful to have plenty of driver chaperones through most of the year, and enough resources (due entirely to the generosity of our supporters) to get through the year.

Most of the year’s trips went as planned, but we rolled with a few inconsistencies, and made adjustments as needed. Slide Ranch in March was completely new, we went for the first time to the wharf in Santa Cruz, and we figured out a way to see Sequoias in Yosemite! We have one more year on our grant for kayaking, so we’ll look forward to that again next year.

Speaking of next year, we’ve already committed to another go-round, and we’re looking forward to seeing what comes. Neither Jason nor John will be at DeJean full time, so that will present an issue that has been challenging in the past. We’ll have to rely more on a few teachers there, and on our returning students.

As always, what we’ll remember most about the year is the magic of the kids, and sharing the adventures with them. It’s an undeniable privilege to be involved with such precious kids, in a community that we love, and we cherish the opportunity.

Hope you have a few minutes to watch our year-end slideshow video. You can click either above or below…

Finally, thanks again for all your support–time, dollars, prayers, encouraging words–whatever it was. We’ll talk again in a few months!


ESCAPE to the Ice

Our final trip of the year to the land of no friction…

Our year-end events come fast and furious, and we completed our ninth adventure of the year to the Oakland Ice Center. As usual, there was a buzz of excitement around the trip, and a resurfacing of some kids that had been missing from the club for a while for the chance to go ice skating.

Kids are always tenuous getting out onto the ice at first, clinging to the side boards. But after a few slips, their confidence grows, and just like anything else, they learn that with a little bravery and practice, they get better.

This trip reminds me as much as any about the power of our group. This place, like most others, is open all the time, and available for anyone to come and visit. But going on your own is nowhere near as fun as doing it with our friends in the club. It’s just better when we’re together, wherever we go.

After a couple hours skating, we headed to the park at Marina Bay in Richmond. After several years at Cerrito Vista, we decided to try something different. We ate pizza, played frisbee and soccer, and just enjoyed being together.

June is upon us, and we’ll have one last meeting with the kids to wrap up and goodbye. Our amazing media team got a quick video together in just 24 hours! Check it out if you like…

We’ll be in touch with one more newsletter before we head into the summer. Talk soon.

It’s a quick one.