Arts and Culture

Big Basin Camping Trip Is A Big Hit



What began as a vision for the Pinewood visual arts department became a reality on Friday, Sept. 16th. On this day, art teachers Jared Leake, Caitlin Miller, and history teacher Jaime Fields led students on a one-night camping getaway to Big Basin State Park, where high school students currently enrolled in upper division art electives put their artistic training into practice.

From etching large-scale geometric designs into beach shores to experimenting with long-exposure photography at nightfall, students enjoyed an art-intensive trip involving a trifecta of beaches, unparalleled coastal views, and a
beautiful campsite.

Big Basin State Park was only the final destination of a long day’s worth of artistic festivities. At Pescadero State Beach, some students took creative license with washed up driftwood and constructed wooden sculptures, while others capitalized upon the sweeping views to take long exposure photos that dramatized mild currents into impressive images.

“I enjoyed every aspect. We were able to take a number of photos and expose the students to some new shooting techniques.  Everyone seemed to be having a great time,” Leake said.

After stopping in Davenport for pastries and coffee, the group also paid a visit to Shark Fin Cove and Panther Beach. Both were breathtaking yet somewhat hidden spots nested along Highway 1.

“My favorite part was visiting Panther Beach because it was a really picturesque moment of Pinewood kids being in their element,” senior Nicole Tang said.

Ornate graffiti murals along the cliffs and sheltered coves made ideal photography and sketching subjects.  Students and teachers alike paved ephemeral, intricate designs into the sand with rakes – with breaks in between for volleyball, spike ball, and bouldering,
of course.

A few detours later, the entourage of Pinewood buses snaked its way down the scenic roads of Santa Cruz County to the Big Basin campsite, a heavily forested area situated under a canopy of Redwood trees. Students settled into the campground and promptly embraced the challenge of creating sculptures sourced locally from fallen trunks and broken tree limbs.  These were later burned in the fire pit.

“I had so many favorite parts it’s hard to choose.  I loved playing music with everyone around the fire and burning the effigies we made out of sticks and twine,” Miller said.

The group relaxed around a campfire with s’mores, burgers, ukulele and guitar jam sessions, and campfire games before heading out for a late-night trek to Sempervirens Falls and a broad mesa with a remarkable view of the full moon for photography.

Some students even tried their hands at slow-shutter photography of designs created by systematically waving around a flashlight. The night ended with the spectacle of a fire twirling show performed by Miller’s husband, bringing the night to a
dramatic close.

When students departed the following morning, they left Big Basin bearing a refined artistic repertoire, a stronger sense of community,  and a heightened appreciation for coastal California —
and mattresses.

Moreover, they left bearing a collection of memories that seem to transcend the finitude of just one day and one night’s worth of
shared experiences.