Afternoon Expedition to Razla Island
Last week in the spirit of discovery, the backpacking activity group spent Tuesday afternoon on “expedition” to Razla Island in order to practice their topographic mapping skills. Razla is a previously explored yet uncharted island in the Payette River on the north side of campus reachable only by watercraft. The goal of this expedition was to, as accurately as possible, create topographic representations of Razla Island while having fun and getting goofy.
Unsure of what they were going to find, fifteen students and two instructors loaded into a raft laden with materials appropriate for mapping–mainly notebooks, pencils, and active imaginations–and set out from the barn to rediscover a part of our campus. As is the case with any good expedition, there were trials, tribulations, and laughter from start to finish.
Students were assigned different roles for the duration of the hour and a half long expedition. A few volunteered to be paddlers, valiantly rowing the raft towards Razla with the goal of circumnavigating new territory. When the channel west of the island became too shallow for the craft to continue, those mapping disembarked, and the rowing crew hopped out of the boat to pull or push the raft through the water until they reached the island.
Another group of students recorded the fauna they found on the island, ranging from dragonflies drifting by on the breeze to sharks and dragons swirling around in their imaginations. Their ingenuity in populating Razla was hilarious and silly, keeping the other explorers giggling as they too spotted “natural wild creatures.” A third group took note of the flora found on Razla, recording the wide variety of grasses, trees, and outlandish flowers in their field journals from the boat and by foot.
In the true spirit of discovery, one student read aloud from Stephen E. Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage (which she brought on the expedition purely by coincidence) as the raft manoeuvred its way across the river. Her narration motivated students to embrace discovery and exploration as Lewis and Clark once had.
Overall, the students had a great afternoon activity, laughing and splashing together in the water and working together to navigate around Razla. While not the most technical of lessons, the afternoon–dubbed “the water hike”–was a great time and allowed students the opportunity to build teamwork and get silly together and was, therefore, a success.