Tag Archives: nature

Exploring California National Parks

By Minah Ha

[2 ½ minute read]

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

Growing up in Southern California, I was privileged enough to be driving distance away from many popular national parks. Every winter and summer break, my family would take a trip to a new national park. During the winter, we would stay in hotels or motels and explore the parks during the day and during the summer we would go camping. Camping and exploring national parks is a fun activity for families or friend groups to take part in over a long weekend or vacation, so here are my top three national park choices that I highly suggest you visit while you’re in California!

1. Yosemite National Park

Photo by Tommy Lisbin on Unsplash

This is one of the most popular national parks in California. It boasts beautiful mountains and waterfalls. The campsites in Yosemite fill up fast, so the best time to book them is in February or March if you want to camp around June. The best place to camp within Yosemite is in Yosemite Village because of its proximity to the best hiking trails and sightseeing locations. Some of their most beautiful hiking trails are the Vernal and Nevada Falls trails. These trails take you to a beautiful spot where you can get very close to the waterfall and if you go earlier in the summer, you will get soaked by the waterfall. The park is very family-friendly and has hiking trails suited for younger children. 

2. Sequoia National Park

Photo by Jorn van Til on Unsplash

Sequoia National Park is known for its gigantic trees. The biggest one yet is called the General Sherman Tree and it’s something that must be visited if you end up going to Sequoia. The park is about 3 to 4 hours away from  Los Angeles. This place is also best to visit during the
months of May to June because the weather is perfect for hiking. Sequoia is also home to various wildlife species and you might be able to see some bears and deer! If you want to get more done while you’re up there, Sequoia is also only an hour and a half away from Kings Canyon National Park, a park with mountains and waterfalls that are beautiful to visit at sunset.

The Culture of Sleep Away Camp

By Katie Stone

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

Most people have little knowledge of sleep away camp aside from classic movies like “The Parent Trap” and “Meatballs”.  The image that comes to mind when most people think about sleep away camp is of canoeing on a lake, tie-dying t-shirts, or making s’mores and telling stories around a campfire.  The truth is, all of these things certainly exist at sleep away camp, but there is so much more that is involved in this American summertime tradition.

Photo by Artem Kniaz on Unsplash

As a child growing up in the state of New York, my summers always took place at sleep away camp, where I’d spend my days in nature among friends. If you’ve never heard of sleep away camp, it’s a summer-long activity-driven community for children and teens. I have had my fair share of bracelet making and song singing, although my favorite part of camp is undoubtedly interacting with all of the people I’ve met over the years.  Because there are about 100 girls at my camp, and 200 boys at the neighboring “brother” camp, it is safe to say I recognize every face I see.  I can walk down the stunning lakefront path to the dining hall and see friends ranging in age from 8 to 21. There is a certain bond that forms between people who live together in an isolated, yet self-sufficient mini-world that is sleep away camp, and this made this a very memorable part of my childhood.

One of the strongest and most tight-knit communities I belong to is my sleep away camp.  Tucked away in the serene Adirondack mountains, camp is home to a small group of kind, creative, and unique people. The sense of comfort is so strong in this small, lakeside oasis that every person feels like a member of a family. We admire each other’s passions, supporting one another in everything from sports to plays to painted masterpieces; I have never felt more at home in a place besides my own house.  Growing up as a camper, I learned fun lessons from my counselors: how to french-braid hair, craft string bracelets, and effectively mouth words to songs that I was too young to memorize.  They taught me the games, songs, and customs that bind our camp community together, making sure to promote camp spirit.  Now that I am a counselor, I feel that it is my duty to highlight these traditions and pass down the skills I learned to my campers to demonstrate how special this place truly is.

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Southern Hospitality

By Kalan Leaks

[3 minute read]

As I write this, I am realizing that this semester will be my final one as an undergraduate attending the University of Southern California. It’s been quite a journey from being a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed freshman to being a nonplussed engineer with bags under his eyes. Living in Los Angeles has taught me so much about the world as well as myself. Its many charms have won me over despite some of its flaws. However, as the time until graduation slips ever closer, my mind wanders towards my first home in the Southern part of the United States.

I was born in Blytheville, Arkansas, at 11:37 pm on October 28th.  Blytheville is on the northeastern side of Arkansas, so if you wanted to take a quick vacation, Tennessee and Missouri are only minutes away. Arkansas itself has a few interesting, noteworthy quirks. The state gem is a diamond due to the fact that Arkansas is the only state that produces diamonds, and it produces more rice than any other state. Also, for some reason, our state beverage is milk.

Photo by Christian Mack on Unsplash

Blytheville only has a population of around 15,000 people-that’s smaller than USC’s current undergraduate population and almost 3 times smaller than USC’s total student population! If that astonishes you, then you would be surprised to know that the neighboring town of Dell, Arkansas, has a population of only 250 people. Blytheville is a town that takes pride in agriculture and small town charm. You only have to drive a few minutes outside of town before riding along cotton or wheat fields at your side just waiting to be harvested. A benefit of living in a small town is that you get to know everyone in your community. It reminds me of an old television show that would air late at night called Cheers. The theme song would say, “…where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.” To me, that’s Blytheville.

However, the downside to living in a small town is, ironically, that everyone in the community knows you and your family. If you happen to get into trouble at school, your family will probably hear the story from five different people by the time you get home. So, you have plenty of incentive to be on your best behavior.

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