Benefits of Shimber Beris


Shimber Beris offered freedom from the pressures of public school life and the social demands of early adolescence supported by daily practical and philosophical leadership. Some benefits arose out of the sometimes free-wheeling and quasi spontaneous manner in which the Burden's ran the school. Depending on the era in which it operated as well as the student's capacity to extract from available opportunities, individuals with youthful spirits often appreciated the chance to participate in unfamiliar activities and pioneering challenges.

When the requirements were righteous, students who came from neglectful or abusive family environments often benefited from the social guidelines imposed upon them. These not only endowed them with a sense of responsibility but inspired them to achieve in various ways.

During the Baja era some of the students interested in mechanics enjoyed getting the opportunity to work on the school’s various vehicles. Others realized self expression by constructing their own rustic furniture from saplings found in the desert while others gained a sense of purpose from working with the animals, cooking, trailblazing, or as Dr. Burden’s personal assistants.


Excerpt from student journal of the drive down the Baja Peninsula

Sat. Feb. 16, 1963
We crossed to Mexico at 12:24 noon. We stayed in Tijuana until 6:30pm, left for San Felipe then. Stopped at 2:30am to sleep.

Sun. Feb: 17: Started at daybreak to drive got to San Felipe at 7:30 or so. Are camped nearby on desert. Lots of beautiful flowers. All low desert growth. Mountains on horizon. All sandy terrain.

7:40 pm: Went swimming in the p.m. I washed dishes in bay. Lots of stars out. Temperature is even. Water in bay is very blue and warm.

Mon 18: Nothing exciting happened. Put up awning made of tarp and tent poles.

Tues 19- 8 am: Very warm and comfortable, plan to bake all day.

Wed 20: Baked all day today and yesterday. Left camp at 4:50pm, leave for the road south early tomorrow. Plan to get water in San Felipe today.

9:00pm: We're going south, plan to drive for 3 or 4 hours.
We've stopped now, its 12:30 midnight. We have a blow-out on the rear right outside tire. Road has been very bumpy.

Thurs. 21: Morning now, the desert is beautiful, we slept on the ground last night. Is full of extremely sharp volcanic rocks. We have just finished changing the tire. The gash in the old one is approximately 4” long. We went about 30 miles last night. The Studebaker has to go back to San Diego for tires. We will be delayed a day or so.

Sat Feb 23-10:30am: We are underway again. Dr Burden got back to camp last night. We were camped on (unintelligible text). It was an hour’s walk to the sea. The desert is in bloom now and it is very beautiful. The road is very bumpy.
We have stopped in Puerto Citos and it is approx 12:10 noon: This place is very ugly (the town.) Most of the other people have campers, trucks, VW cars and buses or power wagons. Half of them have boats. The water is exquisitely blue green.
Lots of wind today so there are white caps on the gulf. I talked all afternoon with Bonifacio yesterday. We camped on or near a beach approx ¼ of the way down the peninsula.
We are east of El Marmol. All sandy terrain. About a 5 or 10 min walk from here. We are about to leave, it is

10:35: we out here at 7 or 8 o'clock last night. Went swimming at San Luis Gonzaga bay, warm and beautiful.
Are 23 miles out of San Luis Gonzaga, have met some people with Jeeps; from Utah. They have cracked the frame of one of them.  Land here is very beautiful. In one place there were flowers as far as you could see and on the other side (of the road) the blue gulf. There is much cacti around here.
Plan to go to Punta Prieta tonight. It is ¾ of distance down Baja California Norte- 1/3 of total length of peninsula.
We stopped to get water 10 min after Jeep incident. We stopped at a place with two pure water wells. The water must be boiled first though, to drink. The place to get the water (local) was actually a gold mine, extremely interesting place.
We now have 100 gallons of water with us, we have to stop now (8:05) pm and tighten up the water containers that were loose.

Feb 25- Reached Punta Prieta last night at 1:00 am.
7:30 am: Everyone is up now and there are many Boojum trees in the surrounding area. Terrain is very rocky. We had a blow out last night while traveling through a very muddy salt water canyon. We are changing transmissions here. The old one was missing several teeth.

Feb 26- Reached Pacific coast today. Had another flat tire. Vegetation is growing sparser as we reach the Viscaino desert. Slept in Punta Prieta last night.

9:25 pm:. Are on edge of the Viscaino changing 4th tire. Plan to make El Arco tonight. Vegetatio grows and thins out, etc.

Feb 27- Spent night in El Arco, appears to be a pretty natural Mexican village. Has all the pigs and chickens and rats of a village. Has a full adobe production. They seem to be constructing a new “tract”. Bought a new sombrero today. All the stores are charming. All general stores.
We are on the border of Baja Calif Sur and Norte. Baja Norte is on Pacific Standard time; Baja Sur is on Mountain time.

We are 1/2 way down the peninsula. The panocha here tastes like extremely hard pure molasses. It is my favorite so far. Visited an abandoned gold mine here. Fascinating.

Feb 28- Spent the night 29 miles out of El Arco. Fixed our 6th flat and rotated tires. 11:17 am on the road. Later have gone 72 miles today. It's now 6:11 pm and we are changing a tire. We were about to lose the tread. Mornings here have been cold and foggy. There is much wind now.

March 1- Have been traveling continuously over salt flats. Stopped on a lagoon which had many turtle shells on the beach; a lot of mud flats too. We will try to be in La Paz by tomorrow night. Today we have gone over vast expanses of salt flats then heavy undergrowth and high cliffs and now (6:50pm) we are traveling over a high flat mesa. Total distance was 90 miles or so.

March 2-Sat: We went through the village of San Juanico, a fishing cannery and village by accident, we took a wrong turn. Here it is littered with turtle shells and sand dollars (as big as 4” across-lots of turtle shells.)
8:00pm: We were going up a hill and broke an axle. No La Paz tonight!

Mar 3-Sun morning: Axle is not repaired yet. 6:15 pm-axle is repaired. We are in Crucero. A town near La Paz (125 miles?) It has a paved road through the center of town; very unusual. The town is very lively now, even though it is only Sunday. It seems to be an extremely nice town. I would like to come again; there are many stores. Not so many adobe buildings. All are in extremely good condition.

Mar 4: Didn't make La Paz last night. Had a flat 45 miles out. 9:57 am. We are about to leave for La Paz. We are actually going directly to San Bartolo, about 65 miles south of La Paz.

12:45: Arrived in La Paz; Dr. B went into the main part of the city to take Mrs. Burden and the cat (Popo). We are waiting for him to come back so we can go to San Bartolo.

Copyright ©2011 Shimber Beris Archives. (All rights reserved.)