We Focus on Middle School

Hyla Middle School

Exploration Week

Exploration Week immerses small multi-age groups of students in a week-long experience or activity at the very end of the school year. We find that middle school students learn best when they are involved in active and meaningful work.Kids w cameras

This program exemplifies what we believe is important for engaged middle school learning. A learning experience in a real-life setting is not soon forgotten. Alumni often tell us that these Exploration Week trips were the catalyst that ignited a passion that they have continued to pursue.


The trips for 2017 will be announced in the early spring.  

Exploration Week Trips for 2016

Leaders: Vicki Jenkins and Melissa Dempsey
Limit: 14 students
Cost: $430
Dates: Leave on Tuesday, May 31 and return Saturday, June 4

We will travel to Ekone Ranch, a 1000+ acre, non-profit land trust foundation near the Columbia Gorge. We will work at the ranch as “earth steward interns,” learning about sustainable homesteading techniques such as ecosystem restoration, organic gardening,and bio-diesel production. Our duties will include care of the animals, meal preparation and clean-up, and working on various ranch projects such as gardening, fencing, and forestry.

The horses at Ekone work for the ranch’s summer camp program and are gentle enough for beginning riders. Those with more experience may like the challenge of bareback riding. In addition to riding horses, (skills practice as well as trail rides), we will also do some hiking and exploring-perhaps even an overnight trip to Rock Creek Canyon to sleep out under the stars if the weather permits. The spring-fed pond is fun to swim in on warm days.

The beautiful vistas provide perfect subject material for photography, drawing, and writing. We will use photography and journaling to record our experience! Our rustic sleeping arrangements are dormitory style in the straw-bale longhouse. Showers and flush toilets are in a separate building. Students who sign up for this experience should like horses, expect to work hard on the ranch, and bring musical instruments, songs, and stories for evening campfire entertainment.

Note: This is a Tuesday to Saturday trip.

Leaders: Kris Van Gieson, Jenine Adam, Kira McGieson, Tyler Sheldon, and Walker Hauptman.
Dates: **Monday, May 30 – Friday, June 3
**Please note that Monday, May 30 is Memorial Day
Cost: $395
Limit: 12 students

We’ll be surfing at Hobuck Beach a few miles west of Neah Bay, Washington. The campground at Hobuck is right next to the beach with the ocean about fifty yards from our tents at high tide. Hobuck Beach is a great place to learn to surf because it has a gently sloping sandy bottom. The beach is south-facing so the larger northwest swells are reduced in size as they wrap around the point. We will be living, camping, and surfing outdoors all week. There is running water for toilets and drinking water. We will also hold an optional (but very helpful) session in the pool to practice some of the basic skills away from the ocean waves. This helps speed up the learning process. No previous surfing experience is necessary but it is important to be a strong swimmer and to be willing to be dunked under by waves. There are some inherent risks in surfing. We will do our best to minimize those risks by teaching and emphasizing safe surfing practices and having watchful adults surfing with the students.

Surfing is physically demanding. It is challenging to push out through waves, turn, paddle, and get up on a surfboard. It requires mental focus. Surfers have to read the ever-changing size and shape of waves and keep a safe distance from other surfers. Simply living outside requires dealing with whatever nature provides. There are group learning opportunities as well. The challenge of being tired and hungry and needing to cook for the group emphasizes the importance of putting forth effort for the good of others. We also take time at the end of each day to share our successes, challenges, and appreciations.

Leaders: Kimberley Gorman Trick, Andrew Lovejoy, and Masters of the Pacific Northwest
Limit: 10 students
Cost: $425
Dates: Tuesday, May 31 – Friday, June 3 (plus another evening TBA)
Please note: This is a stay at home trip where participants sleep at home.

“Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you what you are.”
Brillat Savarin

Almost twenty-five years ago, Takeshi Kaga hosted the first Iron Chef competition. Our own Jemma Blazina joined the honored rankings when she won Hyla’s first Iron Chef trophy six years ago. As Jemma prepares for university, she is excited to pass her title to a worthy recipient.

To be sure, this battle will be difficult. Each morning, you will wake with the robins, greet the fog, suit up in your personally monogrammed chef jacket, and make your way to kitchens all over the Puget Sound, including PCC, The Pantry, Sizzleworks, and Fire & Earth. You will study and learn from culinary experts who will teach you the essential methods necessary for creating mouthwatering masterpieces.

After visiting Pike Place and other local markets, you will duel for the ranking of Hyla’s next Master. Mystery ingredients will test your creativity. Time restraints will force you to be organized and efficient. Guest chefs will judge your appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Our competitions will be videotaped and edited by David Baker for submission to Chopped Junior, a Food Network television show.

All participants will help prepare an elegant dinner for a local event. We will also attend a Thursday night Guest Chef dinner at Farestart (a nonprofit organization that helps individuals struggling with poverty, homelessness, and other challenges through job training in the culinary arts).

Seattle offers a diverse culinary experience. We are fortunate to live in this area and want to save our funds for the kitchen by sleeping in our own beds each night!

Port Townsend Sailing and Boat building
Leaders: Cami Holtmeier and Cindy Schacht
Limit: 12 students
Cost: $445
Dates: Tuesday, May 31 – Saturday, June 4

Sailing, boat building, cooking and exploring Port Townsend is what this trip is all about. In Port Townsend we’ll spend three afternoons sailing on T-birds and Dorjens boats with instructors from the Northwest Maritime Center. When we are not sailing we will work in their boat shop, learning about wood craftsmanship and building a usable 9 foot wooden boat called a Nuf, which will come back to Hyla with us at the end of the week. We will sleep in a rental house, which is in walking distance from the Northwest Maritime Center in the Uptown neighborhood of Port Townsend. Each night a small crew of students will cook dinner for each other, and we’ll share our home cooked meals around a large dinner table. When we are not cooking, sailing or boat building, we will spend time exploring Port Townsend, walking around town to check out the local museums, parks and create some scavenger hunts. On Friday we’ll end the week with a celebratory barbeque and play in the bunkers and beaches around Fort Worden. We return home on Saturday morning.

Rock Climbing: Tieton River Rock and Vantage
Leaders: Colleen Carroll, Bill and Lynn Agnew, Brooke Luchau
Limit: 10 students
Cost: $315
Dates: Tuesday, May 31 – Saturday, June 4

We at Hyla are lucky to have a climbing wall in the barn but even better than climbing inside is climbing outside on real rock. We will spend the week exploring some of the great outdoor climbing that Washington has to offer. On Tuesday we will drive down to Tieton River climbing area in the Yakima Valley and set up camp for the first part of our climbing adventure. Our climbing experts, Bill Agnew and Brooke Luchau, will help us set up our routes each day and then we will spend our time challenging ourselves and improving our climbing skills. While in Tieton, we will be camping in rustic conditions–no showers but we might go for a river swim if the days are hot! We will also explore the nearby town of Tieton which is a local hub of artisans and entrepreneurial businesses, like a letterpress and bookbinding business, a kite making artist group, a small-scale dairy and cheesemaking company. On Thursday, will drive to Vantage to explore a new climbing spot. We will camp in the Wanapum State Park and enjoy the luxury accommodations–namely the warm showers available to campers! We will spend two days climbing at Vantage and return to Hyla on Saturday.

Hyla will provide the necessary climbing equipment but if you have your own shoes or harness you are welcome to use that.

Note: This is a Tuesday – Saturday trip.

Stay Home and Join the Circus!
Leaders: Chris Soldevilla and Jennifer Haase with the staff of SANCA Seattle and Canopy Tours Northwest
Limit: 12 students
Cost: $360
Dates: Tuesday, May 31- Friday, June 3th and Monday June 6th 

*Please note: This is a stay at home trip where participants sleep at home.  Times vary – most days fall within the 8:00 – 3:00 school schedule with Thursday starting later and returning after dinner.

Run away — I mean stay home – and join the circus! Pull on your striped circus socks and join us for a week full of “flying” and circus adventures. During the bulk of the week, we will be working with SANCA Seattle (School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts) to learn circus skills. Three of our days will be spent in the SANCA Trapeze Tent learning and developing our flying trapeze skills. We will all get the chance to “fly” and learn tricks. Those of us who are ready, and want to, will even be able to learn some cool release tricks and catches by SANCA trapeze artists (this is my favorite!). We will have one day devoted to other circus arts that may include: tight rope walking, trampoline, unicycle and acrobatics. On Thursday, we will head out to Camano Island and experience a different kind of “flying” as we explore the tree canopy on a zipline tour. Beware: participation in this Exploration Week may cause you to want to run away and join the circus.

The Yellowstone Adventure!
Leaders: Jeff Steele and female co-leader (TBD)
Limit: 10 students
Cost: $400
Dates: Tuesday, May 31 – Sunday, June 5

Our destination is Yellowstone National Park. We will swim and beautiful hot springs, visit Old Faithful, and spend several days backpacking in the park. This trip begins with a 12 Hour road trip from Seattle to Yellowstone! The road trip is one great part of the Yellowstone Adventure, with good music, conversation, and games we will enjoy some really incredible sights along our route. Once we arrive in Yellowstone, we will soak in the beauty of the park, and learn about its natural history. No experience in Yellowstone would be complete without backpacking into its amazing wilderness. Our 3rd, 4th and 5th night will be spent out in the backcountry. The park contains amazing wildlife, incredible geology and some of the most beautiful country in North America. Part of Jeff’s history is directing one of the largest expedition programs in the Pacific Northwest. Whether you are taking your first step into the big outdoors, or consider yourself a wilderness guide in the making, you’ll experience and enormous gain in skill and confidence on this trip.

On this adventure you’ll need to be prepared for all kinds of weather. You’ll definitely need a good pair of hiking boots, a pair of flip-flops for the hot Springs, and cold-weather gear for the evenings and in the event that weather turns cold. Don’t let anything stand in your way of this great adventure!

Let’s go to Canada!
Leaders: Mike Fosmark and Christy Ann Fosmark
Limit: 12 students
Cost: $500
Dates: Tuesday, May 31 – Friday, June 3

Note: Each traveler must have a U.S. passport valid through January of 2017.

Welcome to Canada! We will spend five days exploring one of the jewels of our neighbor to the north, Victoria British Columbia. Although it is not ALL of Canada, this beautiful destination city is a great place to start. We’ll travel to Victoria on the Clipper out of Seattle on Tuesday, May 31. Once through customs and in Victoria we’ll explore the town, the sea and the surrounding landscape for sights and sounds of early summer. We’ll stay in a hotel, have breakfasts in the hotel and eat our other meals while exploring Victoria. We’ll go whale watching and visit the Royal Museum. We will rent bikes to tour the outskirts of the town and enjoy afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel. We will visit Miniature World and search for other new favorite corners of this inviting city.