Community Field Trips by Itzel Perez Alarcon

When entering Creative Writing you have to know what you’re getting into… and one of those things are the field trips we go on! I can’t tell you how much (and I think I’m speaking for everyone in the department when I say) fun we have on our field trips. When you first enter CW you’ve probably heard a little about annual trip to Kirby cove. Everyone looks forward to that. But before that, we spend time with our buddies at the Botanical Gardens (among other places) to give us a bit of an orientation. Heather give us a list of where we need to go in the garden, then off we go to write an inspired poem wherever the map took us.  It’s definitely a different experience when you’re with your buddy and walking around nature talking and pointing out very little details you notice while getting to know each other. Bonding is a huge priority in the Creative Writing department. And the Botanical Garden field trip was definitely a huge step forward into getting to know and learn more about my fellow writers. 

The following week was the field trip to the Faith Ringgold exhibit at the DeYoung Museum. Creative Writing will give you so many experiences to expand on your writing and getting inspiration is key to achieving that goal. Going to see Faith Ringgold’s work enticed my inspiration even more. And there is definitely more inspiration coming our way! And that’s not all. It’s barely the beginning. If there was a different meaning for the C in our department it would definitely be community.

Kirby Cove. My vocabulary cannot express how much I enjoyed Kirby Cove. Everything we did at Kirby Cove had something to do with bonding. Snuggling and cuddling in our sleeping bags to clumping up together when the fog comes down on us in the morning adds the right amount of getting to know each other. I definitely know Kirby Cove will become one of my favorite traditions. 

All of these field trips have loaded me with joy and bonding. The best part is it’s just the beginning of the year and I’m already so excited to get to know the people in the Creative Writing community even more!

Sea-Glass Window into Kirby Cove by Hazel Fry

I gaze out the car window at the trees shaped like witches hats, cloaked by a comforting fog. The path is narrow and bumpy, a windy dirt snake carrying my mom, Tiffany and I to the campsite where all of creative writing is to spend the night. The first “hellos” are never awkward the way they are with most groups of people. It’s the beginning of the year, and here we are inhaling the ripe air of creative writing tradition – the familiar smell of campfire, tree roots, and warm veggie burgers. I grab two bags of Sun chips and scarf them down as I absorb the specific kind of serenity you only feel with dusty pebbles between your toes and bundles of sleeping bags surrounding you. 

All the creative writers rush to greet each other, anticipating the many hours we will spend getting to know the new fresh peeps and discovering things about each other we never expected to learn. It’s strange how openness comes in waves. It comes in the kind of ocean waves that we push the freshies into on the beach, laughing as their cheeks drip with freezing sea water. It’s a tradition, okay? Openness comes in the waves of safety versus discomfort, and my department floats on the very tip of the safest wave. As the sand falls asleep beneath my toenails and my goosebump covered arms are locked with people next to me, I am washed by a wave better than the ocean: the comfort of knowing I have people who will look out for me and who I can look out for too. This is Kirby Cove.

Of course it isn’t perfect. There’s a tick in someone’s shoe that I scoop out with a leaf, a dead and stinky seal on the beach, and scrapes on my elbows from bumping into rocks and sticks in the dark. The thing is, I wouldn’t want to smell a dead seal with any other group of people. When it gets late and the black sky engulfs our faces into darkness, all of us from freshmen and sophomores to juniors and seniors gather together. We are so used to fiction, the way it feels to let ink spell out the billions of made up stories in our heads and read them to each other; we are familiar with that kind of bravery. But we leave our fiction in the classroom when we go to Kirby Cove. It’s refreshing to be vulnerable, to practice bravery in a whole new kind of way. Every one of us knows that we are a safe little bundle of young writers in the woods at night, and secrets prance from our tongues like fireflies. 

After staying up close to all night, I nap right when I get home. But, when I finally wake up, all I want is to go back to Kirby Cove. Next year. 

Kirby Cove Year Three by Emily Kozhina

Being a creative writer at SotA comes with accepting all the traditions that come with being in the department. One of the most favored traditions is the overnight trip to Kirby Cove, a camping spot in Marin County. During our stay, all the students participate in activities like swimming in the bay, soccer, and sitting around the campfire, face glowing with content and sweat and bay water.

When I was a freshman, “Kirby Cove” was a magic word, one mention and all of the other grades began to chatter excitedly, which both intrigued and terrified me. What was so incredible about some overnight camping trip? Now, as a junior, I’ve gone three times, and I completely understand. Of course, I won’t go into detail of the events that occur, because the students who have gone already know, the parents of those students have already heard about it, and the future CW students will soon find out.

Rather than the events of the trip, I wanted to write about something far more touching, which is the pleasant bonding that occurs during the trip. One of my favorite times in Kirby Cove is sitting around the fire late at night. People are roasting marshmallows, telling stories and chatting, and most importantly, making sure Heather wouldn’t wake up (It happened once, but she was too charmed to get angry with us, and went back to sleep). I watched as some nodded off to sleep while they stared into the fire, while others protected the group from thieving raccoons. Occasionally, a handful of people who leave to walk around and stay awake, and always came back cold and lonely, cured by the peaceful bonfire. Staring into the fire and hearing distant laughs further down by the ocean, I am reminded of how grateful I am to be in this department, and have experiences I’ll cherish until I’m old.

Emily Kozhina
Class of 2020

Kirby Cove by Kaia Hobson

When I first joined the Creative Writing department, many things stood out, the people, the work space, and of course the writing. But one thing the made itself clearly evident was the extensive amount of traditions. I recently participated in the most recent one, Kirby Cove. Kirby Cove is the place the Creative Writing department goes to camp every year; it is treated as a bonding experience for all the grades. We stay only for a night.

This year, we managed to get a spot during the three-day October weekend, providing an extra day for recovery.  There was one site for the whole twenty eight kids attending. It was cramped, but this heightened the bonding experience even more. The campground was beautiful, the green groves of trees creating a canopy over our heads, while the soft sound of crashing waves filled our ears.

Most people had arrived around noon, their presence kicking off the abounding mini traditions in the Kirby Cove experience. I could see the excitement in the upperclassmen eyes as they arrived, old memories reminiscing, new ones about to be made. Most of the events revolved around the recent additions to the department: the Freshmen. Me, being a freshman was expecting this, but I was unaware as to how intense the activities would get. The activities will go undescribed to add to the surprise for next year, but all I can say is how they may have seemed surreal at first, but they were definitely something to remember. I felt much closer to my peers, us now seeming as one.

Small groups of Creative Writers were constantly walking back and forth from the beach to the campsite. Those who didn’t have shoes, and who couldn’t handle the sharp rocks covering the path, were willingly carried by those who had shoes. I floated from group to to group, from other freshmen to upperclassmen, getting to know a little about everyone in the department.

A night some decided to sleep, while others vowed to stay up the whole night. I gave in to my body’s pleas for rest, and got perhaps three interrupted hours of sleep next to the fire pit. The next morning everyone was delirious, even including the people who did get a improved night’s sleep. We all packed up, eager to head home and rest, but sad to leave such an experience behind.

Although the trip is behind us, the connections I made will last me throughout my years of high school, perhaps even further. I can’t wait to return to the newly familiar Kirby Cove.

Kaia Hobson, class of 2021

My First Kirby Cove by Nina Berggren

When I arrived at Creative Writing’s annual camping trip to Kirby Cove, I came wide-eyed and eager to experience all of its glory. The Marin sun breathed heavily on our necks, and the tall, beautiful trees, provided a welcoming shade.

Late afternoon, all the Creative Writers went down to the beach, where the seniors struggled hilariously to dunk the freshman in the frigid bay, a refreshing, but also numbing, Creative Writing tradition.

When nightfall came, we gathered around the campfire to eat sausages, while listening to a delightfully creepy story, told by Sam, Heather’s husband. Following the story, the Creative Writers retired to the bunker for Hot Seat. What transpired at that time can not be repeated, but it brought us all together as a class and made me feel much closer to my peers.

It was two in the morning when Hot Seat concluded and tired writers began to give in to their exhaustion, shrinking away from the bunker and into their sleeping bags– all but a lively eight of us, who decided to pull an all-nighter. We sat around the fire with the dark, raccoon-infested forest at our backs, and the hot, crackling flames heating up our faces. Time slipped by as we listened to Max Chu (‘20) strumming his ukulele while we talked and laughed. My peers were slowly being exposed to my wild side, a result of me being delirious.

After a competitive game of “B.S.” we walking back to the ocean at around 4:30am. We treaded carefully across the smooth, icy stones to a nearby rope swing that had been used by tourists all day.The swing was now empty, but not silent. The foghorn sounded often in the distance. Heavy fog encircled us as we took turns soaring upwards on the swing, an exhilarating feeling that belittled any stress I once had.

After returning back to the campfire to warm up, we returned to the beach to watch the glistening stars give way to the soft light of dawn. The fog was thicker than ever and the Golden Gate Bridge was entirely shrouded in the white wetness. We watched the ocean transform from deep black to a crystal blue. The water swung repeatedly over the edge of the beach like the swing over the water. That moment was serene. I was amazed when a pink and orange glow was revealed, originally hidden by the fog. We watched the fog move and listened to the foghorn wish us good morning. I could now see the Golden Gate bridge in all its entirety, as well as downtown San Francisco’s skyline, a silhouette surrounded by warm, red and yellow hues. The colors deepened slowly and finally faded when the full sun could be seen. Wind followed us back to camp for coffee, muffins, and fruit, a glorious ending to my first Kirby Cove.

Nina Berggren, class of 2020

Kirby Cove by Angelica LaMarca

Having been a part of the SOTA Creative Writing department for two years now, I can gladly say that Kirby Cove is something that never fails to generate excitement in me. No matter how many times I will re­exhibit the cycle of sleep deprivation, matted hair, and sand in my ears, I still found myself enticed as I descended down the gravelly, sun­doused path which leads to the campsite. Located in Marin, at the cusp of the Golden Gate Bridge, Kirby Cove is where Creative Writing takes part in a camping trip every year, and is a distinct attribute to the Creative Writing experience. The campsite offers a surreal view of the bay — especially at night, when your hair smells vaguely singed, and the beach is fringed with black water, and you can look out and try to estimate how many breakups and robberies and phone calls are happening on that hulking, gold­speckled mass which is San Francisco. At least, that’s I did this year, along with some of my friends as we sat atop an old war bunker after a long night of s’mores, scary tales, and Hot Seat. This has always been my favorite part of Kirby Cove: the eerie feeling of detachment you get peering out at San Francisco from afar, all the while knowing that no one will get to experience that moment with you except for your closest, most cherished friends.

I know that in the years to come, Kirby Cove will anchor all the great memories I’ve attained from being in this department, and for this reason, I believe it’s been an essential part of my high school experience.

Thank you Creative Writing for being great!

Angelica LaMarca, class of 2018

What’s The Magic Of Kirby Cove? by Sophie Mazoschek

To be completely honest, I was not in the mood for Kirby Cove this year. My days of being charmed by dusty hiking boots and campfire scented hair are long over. Besides, what high school junior in their right mind wants to finish a stressful week of school only to pack up and head straight to a campsite where the latrines are bottomless hell pits and it gets cold enough at night to seriously endanger any toes left poking out of a sleeping bag?

Despite this, I couldn’t manage any genuine irritation as I was shuttled across the bridge toward the Marin Headlands. Everyone who has been on this annual CW trip before knows that Kirby Cove has its own particular brand of magic; no matter how surly you are coming in, it always wins you over in the end. On the winding walk down to the campground, listening to the excited chatter of my friends, I could already feel my mood changing for the better. The spell was starting to take effect.

At first glance Kirby Cove looks like it might really be enchanted. Nature seems to be slowly encroaching on the man-made, with canopies of thin trees bending overhead and brush and stoic flowers creeping in on dirt paths. Down by the shore, a precariously constructed rope swing hangs over open water. You can grab your notebook and tuck yourself away in a corner of the forest or the damp tunnel of the old gun battery by the beach, where the sound of waves breaking against the shore is amplified a hundredfold. The scenery practically begs to be written about, to be filled with war heroes or musketeers or wild animals of your own invention.

The real magic of Kirby Cove, though, is what the Creative Writing department brings to it. Within a few hours of our arrival, the unspoken barriers between the age groups had lifted, and I found myself standing on a picnic table belting out “Space Oddity” with a group of equally tone-deaf freshmen and sophomores. It all felt perfectly right, even if our neighboring campers didn’t think so.

Later, after Heather’s husband Sam had read us two fantastically creepy tales by firelight, we all adjourned to the gun battery for our traditional game of Hot Seat, the details of which cannot be discussed due to Vegas Rules. I will say that I was touched by the outpouring of support and empathy that everyone showed not only toward their friends but toward everyone in the department. Creative Writing is a community where no one has to change any aspect of themselves to feel safe or accepted, and in the middle of high school’s high-stress social environment that’s both rare and invaluable.

When the last vestiges of daylight had ebbed away and the stars winked to life along with the multicolored lights on the Golden Gate Bridge, I watched cars crawling like slow, metallic bugs to and from San Francisco. My friends were sprawled out all around me, half zipped into their sleeping bags. A few yards away in every direction other small groups whispered or slept, the sound of their breathing mingling with the swish of the waves against the shore to form a comforting background noise. There was a sense of peace about the whole scene. We were all safe in the knowledge of being surrounded by people who we loved, and who loved us back. It’s moments like these which make Kirby Cove an indispensable part of the CW experience.

Sophie Mazoschek, class of 2017

Kirby Cove by Huck Shelf

Every year, the Creative Writers go camping in the Marin Headlands, at a small campground known as Kirby Cove. It is, of course, scenic. There is bright blue water, and trees, and fresh air. There is a rope swing above the water that is incredibly fun. There is a bunker upon which we hung out. However, it’s more than that. It’s a bonding experience.

As a freshman, it was my first time. I was apprehensive for a million reasons. I was worried I wouldn’t get enough sleep, worried people wouldn’t like me, worried I wouldn’t have fun. None of this proved true. It was incredibly fun, and I grew better friends with everyone there.

We talked, and sung. We made s’mores, and we ate s’mores. My fear vanished almost immediately. Everybody was kind to me and my fellow freshman. I felt like we were part of a giant family.

Of course, this has some bearing on my writing. Nature always inspires me. I want to write every time I am in the woods, or at the beach. Also, the friendships that I have made encourage me to continue to write and share and make art.

Huck Shelf, class of 2019

[DR] Monday, Oct. 28th

by Giorgia (’14)

On Monday we returned to the classroom from our annual camping camping trip at Kirby Cove sleepy and smoke-smelling with fresh faces and new stories. Among which Heather learned to play snaps, Giorgia (’14) tried to teach samba, Justus (’15) was a sexy bookcase, the freshmen underwent forceful (and ultimately unsuccessful) segregation, the Schott-Rosenfield (’14, ’17) sibling rivalry went crashing into the sea, and Colin (’16) finally took down Jules (’14), our own departmental kraken, during our traditional beach romp. Mostly, it was just, as the young ones say “cold as balls.”

Obviously, we had a lot to discuss on Monday. We did this eating delicious peanut butter chocolate cookies Noa (’16) made for her writing buddy, Lizzie (’14) (happy 17th birthday lizz!), and leftover croissants, potato chips, and izzes from the trip. We talked about our favorite moments, what went well and what didn’t.

After our Kirby Cove debrief, the freshmen went off to the dark cavern they call “Freshmen Seminar” with Maia, and the rest of CW settled down with Sarah Fontaine (<3) for umläut. It’s early on in the year, so we are currently lying out preliminary framework, along with rebooting umläut‘s online presence and overall mission statement.

That evening, five seniors– Midori Chen, Mykel Mogg, Giorgia Peckman, Frances Saux, and Abigail Schott-Rosenfield —read at the Book Club of California (of which Abigail is a member). We were asked to the Book Club by Abigail’s grandmother, Kathy, earlier this year. Each of us read through a section of the Club’s collection (the club specializes in fine print press), mostly Tangram books, and each selected one or two works from which to write from. Our response poems focused on California history, and the relation of landscape and the individual. It was quite exciting to read our work outside of the school community, especially in such a rich and resonant environment full of so many monumental works.

We also sold a full set of umläut to the Book Club!