Nature’s Lessons On Campus
A ribbon of fog drifts across a dewy green field. As sunbeams burst over the eastern mountains, they strike the misty blanket making it waver and slowly begin to evaporate, raising the curtain on a beautiful day on Alzar School’s Idaho Campus.
It is easy to get caught up in the busy daily lives of students and teachers. Alumni will attest that days at Alzar School are full. Behind students bustling from class to class, kayaks being loaded into vehicles for afternoon activity and the clanking of dishes being washed is an amazing natural backdrop that, if we only pause to see, is equally as busy and full of life.
Alzar School’s Idaho Campus sits upon 372 acres of riverfront property along the North Fork of the Payette River. Once ranching land, the flora and fauna of our Idaho Campus has quickly been restored; washing away old cow patties to form a complex riparian ecosystem. The river’s bench is dotted with spindly lodgepole pines, massive grandfather ponderosa pines, and deciduous stands of western larch. These wooded areas provide homes for pileated woodpeckers, barn owls, and bald eagles. In the predawn hours, while students are asleep in their bunks, the soft hoo-ing of owls can be heard; a testimony to an active night of hunting. As the sun rises, the prehistoric warbling calls of sandhill cranes echo across the fields and, if you look closely, you might just see a resident fox blending in and out of the grasslands. Overhead flocks of snow geese form giant white chevrons in the sky, pointed north on their way to higher latitudes. Herds of elk and deer roam freely up and down the river corridor and, while often shy around boisterous teenagers, they leave prints and droppings as evidence of their meanders. In the river, fish and frogs jump in search of their next insect meal while osprey keep watch from neighboring nests. At night, the distant yips and barks of coyotes on the hunt can be heard over the crackling of wood fires in the yurts. Nature’s harmonious balance is ever-present on the Alzar School Campus and provides a powerful lesson.
The natural environment of our Idaho Campus demonstrates life’s balance and beauty. As Alzar School students take on academic stress, adapt to communal living, try new activities and simply withstand the pressure of being a teenager, the outdoors, and especially the environment available right on campus, lends itself as a refuge, a place of calm and reflection. Spending time alone or with others in this natural setting can be wildly therapeutic and centering. Throughout the semester, students are encouraged to explore, observe and reflect in the natural spaces of Alzar School’s Idaho Campus. In doing so, we hope that students carry nature’s lessons of balance and beauty with them beyond the whirlwind of their semester experience.