Patagonia Frontiers designed and instructed a nine-day Winterterm Program for the 2017-2018 school year for a group of 16 St. Thomas Aquinas students and two teachers.
The Winterterm Program of Studies in Patagonia allows the school to advance their student's education in unique and awe-inspiring ways. It is an opportunity to widen student’s learning horizons, step outside of the traditional instructional atmosphere and pursue areas of intellectual interest that challenges their minds, supports their passion and transforms their perception of learning.
Student curriculum included observation, identification and interpretation of landscape and how it is shaped through physical geography, aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity, and the regional, national and global significance of old-growth forest and pristine watersheds. Each area of focus included leadership opportunities, cultural exchange, and personal and group development and reflection. The 9th through 12th grade students backpacked to the pristine study area and tent camped.
Students hiked and explored an untouched and largely unknown part of wild Patagonia following our signature route - The Gaucho Way. The route follows traditional trails used by the Gauchos, Chilean cowboys who are friends and neighbors. On horseback, they herd cattle to market and return to their homesteads with flour, sugar, yerba mate and other sundries. The Gaucho Way denotes both their passage through the mountain landscape and their distinctive, gracious culture.
Day 1: Depart on overnight international flight from U.S.A. to SCL, Chile.
Day 2: Arrive Santiago. Domestic flight to Balmaceda Regional Airport (BBA). Private transfer to Puerto Bertrand. Overnight tent camp in Puerto Bertrand.
Day 3: Boat shuttle to Patagonia Frontiers Wilderness Ranch. Orientation and preparations. Half-day hike 5 km. to overnight at Salt Licks tent camp.
Day 4: Continue trek 9 km. to overnight tent camp at Cacho Ranch. Academic orientation to curriculum topics.
Day 5: Trek to Northern Patagonia Icefield. 12-18 km. (7-11 mi.). Student groups rotate through stations addressing the Solér Glacier moraine transect study, the role of trees and old-growth forest in healthy watersheds, and an introduction to Gaucho homesteading skills. Overnight tent camp at Cacho Ranch.
Day 6: Student groups rotate through stations addressing the Solér Glacier moraine transect study, the role of trees and old-growth forest in healthy watersheds, and an introduction to Gaucho homesteading skills. Overnight tent camp at Cacho Ranch.
Day 7: Complete trek with return to main ranch. Program debrief and evaluation. Celebratory dinner of traditional Patagonia Asado (BBQ). 12-16 km. (7-10 mi.) Overnight tent camp at main ranch.
Day 8: Boat shuttle to Puerto Bertrand and vehicle transfer to Balmaceda Regional Airport. Domestic flight to Santiago. Begin international flight.
Day 9: Arrive final destination.
Patagonia Frontiers Philosophy:
“To contact the deeper truth of who we are, we must engage in some activity or practice that questions what we assume to be true about ourselves.” ~A.H. Almaas
We design and lead wilderness education and leadership programs. Our educational programs work with high schools, universities, camps and other organizations to provide logistics and risk management oversight for the institution's established program or through our own outdoor, leadership and science curriculum.
Our mission is to advance outdoor education and conserve wilderness classroom, serving as an ally for the surrounding parks and communities. We create learning environments that invite students to expand their view of what is possible, both as an individual and as a group. Our intent is for students to gain knowledge, courage, and techniques necessary for implementing beneficial change, and the enthusiasm to positively impact our world and be dreamers and doers in their own lives.
"When we know that the animals and plants are part of who we are, we can listen and respond. Ignoring the trees is like ignoring our lungs when they are congested and we can't breathe. Extinction of the songbirds means the end of our living music. When the planet herself calls to us in our dreams, if we are in touch with the truth of our mutual belonging, our hearts naturally stir with care. We remember that the web of life is our home." ~Tara Brach, excerpted from Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha