Baldwin School Of Puerto Rico

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Headmaster's Experiential Learning Trip

South and North Island, New Zealand
Summer 2017


Aotearoa is the Maori name for New Zealand.  In their language, it means “Land of the Long White Cloud.”  New Zealand is one of the most isolated major land masses on the planet.  Located at the extreme southwest corner of the “Polynesian Triangle”, New Zealand is 4,727 miles away from Hawaii, 6,930 miles away from Rapa Nui (Easter Island), and 1,342 miles away from Sydney Australia.

Early settlers discovered a land of profound natural beauty and stunning diversity.  New Zealand offers every climate zone, from snow packed mountain peaks to dusty deserts, tussock prairie to tropical rainforest.  New Zealand’s isolation provides a laboratory for evolution.  Most striking are variegated avian forms unseen anywhere else in the world: giant grazing birds, massive birds of prey, ground nesting birds and climbing birds. A number of ungulates were introduced in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including elk, moose and red deer. Yes, there are lots of sheep. There are no large predators. 

Once we arrive in New Zealand, our journey will take us first to South Island, where we will be treated to the Abel Tasman Coastal track, as well as one of the Southern Alps pristine glaciers.  We will spend much of our time on the North Island hiking across Te Urewera National Park. June is the first month of winter in New Zealand. Average North Island temperatures during June range from 4-16°C. South Island temperatures range between 1-12°C. Expect rain in the North, with snow possible in the South.  We will plan and pack accordingly.

Every experiential learning trip is designed to test students physically, intellectually, and emotionally.  We seek to develop in each of our participants self-reflection, personal accountability, resiliency, independence, and leadership. Our students are challenged to become strong communicators and collaborators, skills that will serve them well throughout their lives. 

This trip is open to our young men and women, ages 14-17.  There will be a number of training days, beginning in October, that prepare our participants for the rigors of our trip.  Students must be in good physical condition to participate.  These trainings are not optional, they are tough, and they are essential for the safety and wellbeing of all participants. We encourage newly interested students to ask our previous trip attendees about their experiences. 

The New Zealand trip is led by James Nelligan and John Kedrowski.  Mr. Nelligan is an avid experiential educator, outdoorsman, diver, and hunter, leading outdoor experiences since 2002. He is a historian of science and a veteran teacher of biological and physical sciences, specializing in evolutionary biology. He has led numerous trips to Volcanoes National Monument on the Big Island of Hawai'i, and to paleontological sites in Central Oregon.  More recently, Mr. Nelligan co-led Baldwin students to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota, along the Dingle Way, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland, and to upcountry Iceland near Skaftafell National park.   

Mr. Kedrowski has been creating and leading wilderness experiences for groups since 1993.  These experiences include backpacking trips in Minnesota, Michigan, Montana, and Alaska, wilderness fishing trips in Minnesota and Canada, and canoe trips on lakes and rivers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Canada.  Mr. Kedrowski is a trained scientist who specializes in geology, and a veteran science teacher.  He has co-lead numerous trips with Mr. Nelligan, including those to the Boundary Waters, Ireland, and Iceland. 

This trip is planned for the last two weeks in June 2017. There are only 16 available spots (no exceptions), and they are first come, first served. The trip cost, which includes meals, travel, lodging, gear rentals, guide fees, etc., is $5100.  Students will have to purchase some speciality clothing items and personal gear.  All students must have a current passport. For more information, or to secure a spot for your child, please email Laura Montalvo at  Please note we will not make any special travel accommodations for participants. They must leave from and return to Puerto Rico with our group.  


HEADMASTER'S TRIP SUMMER 2018: The Highlands of Scotland

“Mr. Nelligan showed me that I am capable of exceeding any mental and/or physical limitations; of conquering obstacles that at first seem impossible for a teenager. I learned never to back down from a challenge. He taught me all of this during our summer experiential learning trips”

-Juan Ortega
Baldwin Class of 2016
University of Colorado