Northview — Michael Melcher noticed something when he spent the first few minutes at camp sitting quietly on a patch of soggy ground: He didn’t hear any birds.
“That sometimes means a storm is coming,” said the fifth-grader. “They’re looking for shelter.”
Said third-grader Donald Andre: “I noticed that leaf stems are turning red” as autumn approaches and chlorophyll breaks down.
Added second-grader Gabby Bajema: “I was thinking about how leaves form their shapes.”
On Tuesdays throughout the school year, Field School grades K-5 will participate in a day at the camp to hone their outdoor skills while continuing mastering core subjects in a setting surrounded by forest, lakes and wetlands.
‘This space really gives us the opportunity to be creative. We can spread out, and truly be outside all day.’— Sarah McCormack, third/fourth-grade teacher
While there, Field School students participate in activities and learning opportunities that encourage curiosity, stewardship, community, leadership and adventure. They work on communication skills, teamwork and trust through group initiatives, team-building activities and low rope elements.
On their first day of learning, about 60 students were divided into three groups and rotated through sessions on CPR and first aid, salmon life cycle and nature journaling.
“At field school we value healthy risk-taking,” said fifth-grade teacher Carl Baird. “We work as a community to evaluate various situations, both indoors and in the wilderness. Watching students of various grade levels collaborating during our CPR and first-aid training reminded me of how important it is for students to not only feel empowered, but to be given opportunities to practice their skills and build self-confidence as a team.”
Added Sarah McCormack, a third/fourth-grade teacher, “I really love seeing the students work hard in a new space. At Pine Island we are able to work collaboratively both as students and teaching teams. … This space really gives us the opportunity to be creative. We can spread out, and truly be outside all day.”
Assistant Superintendent Liz Cotter said the district’s “very reasonable” contract to use the camp is being paid for in part through federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER II) dollars meant to encourage staff to engage students in outdoor activities.