19 May
2014
Posted in: travel
By    1 Comment

Denver Zoo: Bunk with the Beasts

Last week we spent the night at the Denver Zoo as part of the Bunk with the Beasts program. I hear the words “field trip,” and I begin to reorganize my schedule. It’s hard to say who likes them more in our house: me or the kids.

Denver Zoo - Bunk with the Beasts - Wildlife Show

For the last few years, the elementary school our boys attend has celebrated the end of 5th grade with an overnight field trip to Denver. The trip is educational, but also a culminating goodbye event for the end of elementary school and a celebration for the start of junior high. My husband and I tweaked our schedules for months to ensure that both of us could chaperone the trip. We recruited a grandma from out-of-town to stay with our three younger kiddos and headed south with 25 5th graders.

Denver Zoo Bunk with the Beasts

Our Bunk with the Beasts program began at 6:30 p.m. We arrived at 6 p.m.,  made our way to the classrooms we would be sleeping in and dropped off our sleeping bags and other gear. The program began with two zoo educators explaining our African-themed program and doing two ice-breaker games with our group. A third educator joined us and gave us an up-close encounter with two animals. The kids were encouraged to ask questions and touch the animals.

The setting of the sun signaled the start of our after hours adventure in the zoo. We split into three groups and toured the zoo for two hours. My family has been to the Denver Zoo several times, but I thoroughly enjoyed touring it without crowds and with a guide. Our volunteer guide was knowledgeable and allowed the kids to self-direct what they wanted to learn.

Denver Zoo - Bunk with the Beasts - Elephant Passageway

We had several students in the class who hadn’t been to Denver, let alone a zoo. Their excitement was palpable. Our guide was patient with the ceaseless questions tossed her way. A station was available for participants to make their own buttons as a keepsake from the trip. The kids in our group appreciated this gesture. It really is the little things that make a big impression. We had a couple students in our group who brought sea lions into the conversation a few times. Our guide opted to take us to see the seals (sea lions were asleep), not scheduled on our African tour, which made her a hero to the kids. We also had the chance to use night-vision goggles to look at animals.

Denver Zoo - Bunk with the Beasts - Elephant

Bunk with the Beasts included a late-night snack of celery and carrot sticks with ranch dressing and popcorn. We enjoyed the snack around 9:30 p.m. before rolling out our sleeping bags and “bunking” for the evening. We had spent four hours at a local gaming center, Boondocks, earlier in the day, so our kids were quiet and tired. They were asleep pretty quickly. I can’t say the same for another school bunked in another classroom near us.

Denver Zoo - Bunk with the Beasts - Penguins

Breakfast was provided as part of Bunk with the Beasts. We had orange juice, coffee, breakfast burritos, fruit, and two different cereal choices. Our bunk wrapped up with a tour of the Toyota Elephant Passage. Again, the zoo without crowds is an amazing experience. Touring the exhibits while the animals are just starting their day was a peaceful and relaxed experience. Not having to wait for crowds to part to see animals made the visit enjoyable. We visited the commissary for a behind-the-scene look at what it takes to feed zoo animals. Our Bunk with the Beasts early morning tour ended with a wildlife show.

I went into this field trip with no concrete expectations. I was impressed by the knowledge of the guides and their patience with the kids. It was obvious the zoo has done the program for awhile. The schedule was seamless and only off by minutes of the itinerary we were given beforehand. I left with a greater understanding of the inner workings of the zoo. I look forward to chaperoning our other children when they wrap up 5th grade.

 

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1 Comment

  • Isn’t it cool how well behaved Sagewood kids are? When I went, I was appalled at some of the other schools there. I about got in a fight with a mom; I asked her kids to stop Kung Fu Fighting. She came up and asked me if there was a problem. My response: “Yes there is. They have asked these kids every way short of begging to be respectful. Your children are running around and fighting.” She quickly left–I guess I can be quite the witch when provoked! The teacher/mom coming out…..dangerous combination! lol

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