A Lesson Learned In California


Savannah Landry, Staff Reporter

When I was in middle school, I went to the Montessori school, and every year we would go on one or two overnight class trips. We went on so many cool trips, but the one we took in my eighth grade year was particularly memorable. Towards the end of that year, my class went on a trip with the seventh graders to California.  

On this trip we went to San Francisco. We had a lot of good times, like visiting Chinatown. It was so cool to see a way of life that’s so different from Salida. One of my favorite memories from this trip was when we went to Chinatown, where we spent the whole day doing a scavenger hunt. My group gave up because we were tired and hungry, so we ended up looking for food earlier than we were supposed to. We didn’t end up finding most places on the map, but we were successful at having a good time.

The next day we drove to Santa Cruz and went to the Santa Cruz boardwalk. The boardwalk was personally my favorite part of the trip. We got to ride roller coasters and have a bit of freedom. This was my first time going on a roller coaster, and it was a very terrifying experience. Now, I know I can ride a roller coaster if the chance presents itself. If I ever go back to Santa Cruz, that is definitely a place I want to visit again.  

The very last day on our trip we went to the Henry Cowell Redwoods. I really enjoyed getting to walk around and see the trees. The trees and surrounding nature were stunning. It was such a peaceful environment, and I learned a few fun facts that I didn’t know. The redwoods really allowed me to feel at peace with the world and myself. I wouldn’t consider myself an outdoorsy person because I don’t usually like hiking or camping, but being around these gorgeous, giant trees really gave me a sense of calm.  

Then one evening we ate dinner in Golden Gate Park. Dinner was really fun, but after dinner we went directly back to our cars to drive to San Francisco and had no idea what surprise awaited us when we got back to the parking lot. The back and one of the side windows of one of the cars we were renting were smashed out, and since we were going back to San Francisco right from the park, we had put all of our bags in that one car. Every bag in the car was gone except for one. Those bags contained trivial things like clothes, but they also had irreplaceable things like stuffed animals and sentimental jewelry. 

Even though I wasn’t one of the people that got my bag taken, it was really hard having to see my friends go through something like that. Everyone had a huge sense of vulnerability after becoming a victim of theft. Everyone was comforting each other and making sure they were okay. Most people were in tears, and it was crazy seeing some people that I didn’t know that well experiencing such challenging emotions. 

This situation brought everyone together more. The week after the trip we all seemed to be talking to each other a lot more. I wish that this trip had happened sooner in the year so we could have all been that close through the year. This really gave me an insight into why people may steal from others. I have a lot of empathy towards the people that felt like they needed to steal from a bunch of middle school children. They were clearly in a place of need and that must have been the best option at the moment for them. 

I really hope that someday everyone is able to provide for themselves and their families to prevent things like this from happening. Being the victim of something like that is hard. A few days after the trip, I wrote a short story about our experience to help bring closure to my friends and make it not feel as big as it did in the moment. My friends all really appreciated it, and it was just another thing that furthered our friendship.

Even though it was a really rough experience, I think we all learned something valuable. We learned how to get over hardship and how to be sympathetic people. It was a great learning experience, especially for the people that actually got their things taken. I think that all of my friends handled the situation incredibly well, and I am super proud of them.