Field Expedition Options 2023

John Huie, VVS Headmaster 1970-1974

Since the school’s inception, the VVS Field Trip program is the most unique and significant venture we undertake. It affirms our basic values. Travel can be the most rewarding form of introspection, taking us not only outward, but inward as well. Education can be a blend of reflection and action, study and experience, thought and feeling.
Many schools offer field expeditions, but none do it the way we do at VVS. From the school’s beginning, students have been exposed to the study of people and their creations, and have an added opportunity to find out about other cultures through fieldwork and immersion. Getting students out of their usual surroundings and engaged in a culture different than their own has been the guiding force behind our Field Trips since our first trip in 1948. Trips to parts of the American Southwest that are often off the tourist route are our guide when planning trips. The outdoors play an extensive role in trip planning as well, with extended stops for rock climbing, kayaking, hiking and camping. The third essential component of a trip is service projects where each student plays an integral part.

Students are introduced to Field Trip offerings each September during our Field Trip Fair and then depart for their two-week journey the second week of November.

Field Trips - VVS Style!

List of 9 items.

  • Arizona Footprints: Heritage & Service 2023

    Beth Suby & Noah Suby 

    AZ Footprint seeks to enhance students' understanding of the biodiversity, culture, and history which enriches the modern landscape of Southern Arizona while focusing on the VVS principles of environmental stewardship, the value of physical labor, and service to others. Our trip begins with one night at Kartchner Caverns State Park where we’ll visit a pristine living cave system.  From there, we’ll head to historic Camp Rucker, nestled in the Chiricahua Mountains, for four nights.  While at Camp Rucker, we will complete historic preservation projects with VVS alum and esteemed Forest Service archaeologist, Chris Schrager.  We will then spend time in Bisbee (3 nights), Tucson (3 nights), and the surrounding areas visiting essential sites. These include: Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area, the Mexico/United States border wall, the Dragoon Mountains, the Bisbee Mine Tour, Coronado National Monument, Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum, Catalina State Park, Mission Gardens and Juan de Anza Trail. 

  • Borderlands 2023

    John Sheedy & Zane Dickey 

    This trip will introduce students to the rich environments and cultures of the borderlands around Tucson, Bisbee and Agua Prieta, exploring multiple perspectives of the border.  The trip will base out of Tucson, Arizona and students will cross the border several times into Agua Prieta and Naco, Sonora to participate in important cultural exchanges with schools, fair trade organizations, and art cooperatives. Students will also be involved in cross-cultural, sustainability, and service projects with organizations such as Sierra Club, and Rancho Feliz, a local NGO. 

  • Canyonlands 2023

    Chris Bolton & Lianne Lydum 

    This expedition explores the richness of life in canyonlands from within the canyon walls, rather than the view from above. We will be bunking in cabins in Escalante, UT so we can explore the amazing slot canyons of Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument. We’ll hike Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park. We’ll camp at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah, which will be our headquarters for four nights. While there, we’ll take a crack at sandboarding down the pink sand dunes. We’ll volunteer for two days at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary - the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the world. And we’ll hike Buckskin Gulch in the Paria Wilderness before heading to Lees Ferry, AZ on the Colorado River for a 10-mile kayak trip. Adventure awaits!
  • Crossing the Rift 2023

    Caleb Kulfan & Jacob Jeffery

    A rebirth of a classic VVS field trip, Crossing the Rift’s goal is to ground students in the spirituality of place and service. We’ll explore the Rio Grande Rift Valley in New Mexico and Colorado, both the physical landscapes and the spiritual undercurrents they instill in the people that live there. We’ll stop by the remote Monastery of Christ in the Desert in the canyon of the Rio Chama before continuing to Taos to explore the EarthShips and other local projects. We’ll spend the second week in Crestone, Colorado, visiting various religious and spiritual institutions that have found inspiration in the rugged mountains and broad valleys of the region. Students will engage in daily yoga, meditation, and mindfulness practices that align with each communities’ traditions. We’ll also bring along musical instruments and other artistic implements so that we can generate our own soundscapes, poetry, art, etc. from our experience. We might not be summiting mountains, but we’ll spend each day climbing the mountains of the mind.

  • Desert Dwellers 2023

    Andy Gill & Kate Stanley 

    One of the best backpacking trips in the Grand Canyon isn’t actually in Grand Canyon National Park.  One of the major tributaries of the Colorado River, Kanab Creek is the largest tributary canyon system on the north side of the Grand Canyon. From its origin about 50 miles north in southern Utah, Kanab Creek has cut a network of gorges with vertical walls deep into the plateau. In the creek bottom are walls sculpted by wind and water into a maze of fins, knobs, and potholes, surrounded by riparian vegetation.  This trip explores the Kanab Creek Wilderness area, descending deep into Kanab Creek, navigating across open desert and rock-filled plateaus, and through narrow canyons. This challenging 50+ mile itinerary will allow for a combination of tranquility, beauty, solitude and reflection.
  • Grand Canyon Backpacking 2023

    John Chorlton & Leigh Carter 

    Students will descend into one of the world’s most iconic landscapes with everything they will need for a week of hiking, camping, eating and exploring the Grand Canyon. The group will practice Leave No Trace camping while learning about the magic of the canyon at a walking pace. The days will be filled with challenging hikes from campsite to campsite, fun meals, comradery and profound accomplishment. The nights will be spent under the stars and the shadows of the great walls of the canyon. This expedition is a VVS classic and sure to bring stories for a lifetime.

  • Costa Rica 2023

    Caroline Diehl & Lindsay Wellman
    VVS unfortunately had to cancel the Guatemala FE last week due to ongoing civil unrest.  In an effort to still be able to offer those students an immersive, mission-aligned, international FE in a Spanish speaking country, we decided to pivot to Costa Rica. Caroline and Lindsay both have personal and professional experience leading trips in Costa Rica.  The new FE is focused less on service and more on environmental sustainability, although there still is a cultural immersion and service component.  For that segment, we will be partnering with Costa Rica Explorations and be based in Turrialba.  We will teach art in a local elementary school, share a presentation about our community and life in AZ, paint murals on the walls of the village bus stop, play soccer and take dancing lessons with peers.   We will also spend 6 nights at a completely off-the-grid eco resort,, where we'll learn about the rainforest, agroecology, natural energy production, and organic gardening.  We'll also have opportunities to tend to the animals, do daily yoga, hike, swim and make chocolate, soap, and cheese.  We'll then explore the Caribbean coast around Puerto Viejo and visit the Jaguar Rescue Center and Sanctuary,  and Cahuita National Park, We'll end our trip with world class white water rafting on the Pacuare River with  
  • Solitude 2023

    Kaylyn Oates & Mike Spielman 

    This journey will explore the wilderness of Capitol Reef National Park. We will be backpacking through Upper and Lower Muley Twist Canyon. Midway through our journey, students will spend 48 hours of this experience on "solo", a time spent alone with the raw power of nature. Students will be self-reliant during this time, setting up camp, preparing meals and reflecting on their place in the Universe.
  • Wilderscapes 2023

    Todd Richardson & Kristen Tobin 

    Seeking to combine visual art with natural scenic beauty, Wilderscapes will explore New Mexico’s wild spaces from Santa Fe to the Gila Wilderness - America’s first designated wilderness sanctuary. We will begin in Sante Fe where a thriving art community sits nestled among the high desert mountains. We will explore the scenery on foot both on the trails and the city streets before making a stop at the world famous Meow Wolf Santa Fe. This exhibit is an artistic experience that cannot be easily described. From there we will travel south to the Gila where we will prepare for a multi-day backpacking trip that will include streams, ponderosa forests, massive high desert meadows, unique rock formations, native cliff dwellings, and hot springs. Students will be given sketch books and other art making supplies and can expect to hike each day of the trip while creating works of art in the field. These works will demonstrate the importance of maintaining these wild spaces and will be exhibited at the Field Expeditions Expo upon our return.
Verde Valley School is an International Baccalaureate boarding and day high school for students in grades 9-12.