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In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, experiential learning plays a vital role in the wholistic development of a student. At Providence, we celebrate the benefits of Beyond the Classroom learning through an exciting off-campus adventure for our seventh-grade students.

Touring San Diego’s Interactive Science Centers

The Seventh-Grade Safari, led by life science teacher Kendra Forster, offers a chance for students to build community as they spend several days exploring Birch Aquarium, San Diego Zoo, and Safari Park. As they work together on team-building activities and dive deeper into learning about God’s creation, they develop friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.

Day Trip to Birch Aquarium

The first full day of the trip features a visit to the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla, a part of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Students explore interactive exhibits showcasing Pacific Ocean marine life, including coral reefs, sea turtles, penguins, and more. The aquarium brings their learning to life as students plunge their hands into tide pools and interact with fascinating creatures up close in a hands-on lab experience.

Students explore the habits and habitat of swell sharks.

After the lab, students spend the afternoon at La Jolla Shores Beach. Most of the trip is technology-free, encouraging students to focus on bonding with their classmates. As the students splash in the ocean, build castles in the sand, and play a serious game of keep away, they bond with their classmates, unwind, and have fun.

Conservation Education at the San Diego Zoo

Day Two brings students to the San Diego Zoo, home to more than 500 animals representing 146 species worldwide. Students see rare and endangered animals, including the California condor, the Amur leopard, and the Western lowland gorilla. The zoo visit is educational and inspiring–students marvel at the incredible diversity and beauty of God’s creation and consider their role in stewardship and preservation.

Protecting Endangered Species at the Safari Park

The trip culminates at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido, which covers over 1,800 acres of land. The highlight is the safari tour through the preserve, home to exotic animals. A knowledgeable guide leads students to see giraffes, rhinos, lions, cheetahs, and elephants. Students also learn about the park’s conservation efforts.

Faith-Centered Science Learning

The Seventh-Grade Safari offers much more than just an opportunity to learn about marine biology and animal conservation and have fun at the beach. The trip also provides a unique opportunity for students to develop their spiritual life, with Christian mentor chaperones guiding and supporting them throughout the trip. These chaperones ensure the safety and well-being of the students and act as spiritual leaders, providing guidance, wisdom, and support during moments of reflection and prayer.

At night, the students cook together, further strengthening their bond as they work to prepare meals for the group. This communal activity also allows students to develop practical skills like teamwork, communication, and problem solving.

Providence’s Seventh-Grade Safari offers a unique and multifaceted learning experience beyond traditional classroom settings. It is an experience that students will cherish for years to come, instilling in them a love for learning, adventure, and faith.


Tawny Kilpper is admissions director for Providence School, K–12. She is the parent of two daughters, one a Providence graduate and the other a current senior on the brink of graduation. She had a wonderful time on the Seventh-Grade Safari.



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