Jennie Wheeler's picture
25 Years of NatureBridge
Jennie Wheeler
November 8, 2010 - 7:21pm

Greg Bostrom has been bringing A.E. Wright Middle Schoolers to NatureBridge programs in Yosemite for 25 years. His wife, Donna Bostrom, has been organizing the trips for 17. This amazing couple are so dedicated to their students that they not only bring their eighth grade students to our program here in Yosemite, but they also work hard to get students to Catalina Island in 6th grade and Astro Camp in 7th grade. By the time these honors students get here to Yosemite, they have had foundational experiences that have prepared them for their ultimate adventure in Yosemite. They come prepared to learn, have fun, sing songs on trail, and repeatedly say "thank you" to their school for providing them with the opportunity to be in Yosemite.

It has been a great pleasure to work with these awesome teachers for the past three years. Two years ago, Greg, Donna, and their team of "professional" chaperones stretched their logistical muscles to adjust to changes made to our program due a rockfall in Curry Village. Last year, they braved long nights of students sick with swine flu. Despite these past challenges, they arrive on trail with glowing smiles and affirmations of how grateful they are to be in Yosemite. This year, things in Boystown and out on trail were mostly smooth sailing.  

A lot of their success in Yosemite comes from their amazing team of dedicated chaperones.  Out of 12 chaperones this year, only one of them had never been to NatureBridge in Yosemite before. In the ranks there are folks like Sandy Duncan, who has been coming for more than 15 years; her husband Dudley, who donates gloves to educators and students; Jules Hercshfeld (a.k.a. "Superman"), a former A.E. Wright parent who will drop all plans to chaperone a trip for Donna and Greg; and many other amazing teachers and community members.  

So much work has been done by Greg and Donna that by the time the students arrive here, they both have felt like giving up at times. It seems like there is endless paperwork, phone calls, meetings, and announcements at the beginning of the school year. Most people wouldn't be able to put up with the stress, but Greg just has to recall the smiles and exclamations of his students in Yosemite to remember why he puts in all the hours of preparation. "Its worth it," he claims, "when I think about students saying, 'ahhhhh' at the waterfalls or bragging about how cool Spider Cave is."

I was lucky this past week to be able to hike with Donna's group, the "Hood Hikers." We had some great students in our group who are enthusiastic about picking up litter, a.k.a. M.O.O.P. (Mess of Other People), learning about Yosemite, greeting other park visitors on trail, and consistently saying "thank you" to park employees. I was impressed!  

Greg is still looking for someone to pass the torch to before he retires, but I'm confident that this great tradition will continue at A.E. Wright and A.C. Stelle. He says he's got another 10 years in him, but Donna says it will more likely be 12. And then they will be off to Maui to enjoy their retirement. But before then, they will hopefully organize for over 1200 more students to learn and play in Yosemite. 

You rock, Bostroms! Thanks for all that you do for your students and NatureBridge! And congratulations on not only sailing through 25 years of NatureBridge, but also 25 years of marriage!

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