Outdoor Education Experience
By: Roland K.
Outdoor Education was one of the most exciting events of the year! At least, that was what all the 7th graders had told us. They had told us it would be one of the best experiences of your life. They said at Snake Road Center (where we went) which is next to Lake Geneva (is a lake in Wisconsin) you would learn so much and love it. The news of Outdoor Education had me on my toes and ready for the excitement! But, what was I actually going to do there? Who would be my group leader(s)/chaperone(s)? Where was I going to sleep and be roommates with whom? Most importantly, did it live up to the hype the 7th graders gave it? You are about to find out in my Outdoor Education Experience!
Well, my questions about who I would be with were quickly answered. Days before the experience, we learned who would be in our activity groups. Our teachers were Mr. Henley and Mrs. Soriano, both really cool teachers! We learned the names of our cabin members when we came to school on the day of Outdoor Education. They were Mr. Henley (supervisor), Oscar M, Peter P, Haseeb M, Reilly C, Mateo S, Ben G, Marvin X, Theo J, and Nazar B. I felt each bed cabin groups were all fair and I was with most of my friends. I was in activity group 3 and our leaders were Mrs. Soriano and Mr. Henley. So overall, I was happy so far. However, our activity groups and bed cabin roommates were not the same which gave us the chance to make new friends!
The Big Group Games
When we got off our buses onto the Snake Road Adventure Center, which was right next to Lake Geneva, we started unpacking all the luggage. Surprisingly, I felt that the luggage was pretty light! We found our own luggage and then took it to our cabins. The boy’s cabins were either the Triplets (1, 2, 3) or you would either be sleeping near the food area! I was assigned to Triplet 3 with my bed cabin group (see above in Groups for more info). After that, we then went up a hill to “The Big Field”, which was where all the games occurred. “The Big Field” was very steep, so it made my legs very tired. Waiting there on the field we found Mr. Palcer, our principal! He was only going to be here for one day, but that was SO awesome! He played Frisbee with us but later we stopped for The Big Group Games!
In The Big Group Games, the whole 6th grade cooperated together in certain games. The first thing we did together was to scream and run at the same time for as long as we could! After that was over, the camp instructors explained to us how we used teamwork by screaming together. So, they wanted us to work together. The next game we played was where we got into groups based on our favorite things. The topics were of favorite fast-food places, your favorite animals, favorite automobile’s number of wheels. I picked Panda Express, penguins, and 1 wheel (of course the unicycle)! What I thought was funny was that when people said 4 wheels by a car, one of the camp instructors disagreed. They said that there were way more wheels inside of the car’s engine so that group was wrong.
The final game in The Big Group Games was Australian Baseball. We all split into our activity groups and we played Australian Baseball. There are two sides of the game, a defense and an offense. The point is simple for the offense, score runs. Defense tries to stop runs. How do you score and stop runs? It’s simple. The offensive side would throw a baseball as far as they could away from the defense and the rest of the team would get into 1 small circle. The one who threw the baseball would run around the WHOLE team, with each one resulting in a run. The defense would try and stop as many runs by passing the ball under and over themselves to other people on the defense. Once all your teammates were done passing to one another, they would all shout “STOP!” This signifies you are done and tells the running team to stop! Then, the 2 teams switch sides and this sequence repeats until the game is over. To be honest, I thought the offensive side had a huge advantage over the defense. They could have thrown it behind them where none of the opposition would be or they could have thrown it to a steep hill. But, it was still a fun game! Our team (# 3) crushed the opposing team by maybe 10-12 runs! That of course made me super happy! After the game, our camp instructors taught us that in Australia, whenever someone says ”Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie!” You respond by saying “Oi, Oi, Oi!” Overall, the Big Group Games was a blast and that even though some lost in Australian Baseball, we were all winners.
After The Big Group Games (see more above), we headed to the food area! At times of eating, we could choose wherever to sit. However, once we made a choice, we would have to stick with it. I ate with Mr. Thurston (1 of the chaperones), Ethan L, Davit H, Theo J, Adam B, and Michael V. What I loved about the food was that the variety as so great! We had food like tacos, chicken nuggets, etc. Our food was actually quality food. I sadly expected the food to be; decent. Just decent. So, they overachieved in my terms of camp food!
Team Building Course
In the Team Building Courses, we worked together in our activity groups and did challenges given by the camp instructors. I felt our group was very athletic, so I thought it would be a piece of cake. The first challenge we had to do was to get all the “chickens” (us) past a revolving door (jump ropes). We easily did it by 2 people just slowly swinging the ropes like you would in jump rope. The other people would 1 by 1 run through! After that, we headed onto the next course. That course was; the vine game.
In the vine game, you have to tiptoe on a wire and grab on to ropes or apples until you get to the end of the wire. But, it’s not like the apples were right next to each other. No, it was far apart. So what did we do? We got into groups and when someone couldn’t touch the pole that started us off, another person would come and grab their hand. Even though I thought it would work, the results said otherwise. We would always fall off the wire where spotters would catch us and we would have to start all over. One time though, someone didn’t catch ME! I fell and just hurt myself just a little but, not too much pain. We kept on trying this method until our camp instructor for this course (Emily) told us to stop. I was hurt mentally and physically. I was sad that we didn’t get the job done and I was a little bit hurt from the fall.
Our second to last course was called the spider game. In the spider game, the whole group had to be connected with each other while we crawled through holes in a fake spider web. If we lost connection or we touched the web, we had to start all over. Once again, we couldn’t get the job done. We struggled to find the right holes to go through and the right sequence of people going through. Some people argued about which the best hole was. Again I was hurt mentally. Not only that, my leg still was kind of hurting!
Our camp instructor for this group told us to make a circle as a group or as we called it; a pineapple. She asked us what it required for us to be able to work together. We said teamwork and encouragement. She replied by saying yes and that it didn’t matter if we failed. That we still got somewhere as a team. That made me feel a little better of how we failed and didn’t live up to my expectations. The even better thing was that everyone worked and leaded together to get some things done.
I thought it was over, but I was wrong. We then walked to the Snake Road Center gym and did a very, very interesting challenge. We were to make a machine that could be signified by all of the members of group 3. Then, we were to present it in front of all the other 6th graders and hope that the kids would know what our machine was! Yikes. That’s scary. We all decided that we would do a cuckoo clock. Some kids (mostly the strong boys including me) built a pyramid (3 people on bottom, 2 more people on, 1 on full top) and then kids would shout out cuckoo bird sounds and another kid would show the clock’s hands changing. The result? Success. People knew what we were doing, which was the goal of the challenge.
In Outdoor Education, we had to go to classes and learn about nature and other things. In Aquatic Study, we learned about macroinvertebrates and lakes (specifically Lake Geneva). Macroinvertebrates are animals without a backbone and most animals are in the macroinvertebrate group. These animals are solid ways of knowing what the condition of lakes are. If there are certain animals that usually live in bad waters and are found in the lakes, it is showing that it is in bad condition.
In the class, we looked for macroinvertebrates to see what condition Lake Geneva was in. We found macroinvertebrates in the lake and we found that they were the ones that indicated that the lake was in good condition. We found them by getting sand from the lake and then searching through and looking for any macroinvertebrates. Well, our group found a spider. A dead one! So yes, our group found pretty much nothing. To test other qualities of the lake like the amount of toxic you do a test like this. You first put 2 tablets of whatever is used to identify the certain quality you are looking for. You then mix the tablets with water and eventually the water will change colors. Depending on the color, it indicates what amount of quality it is. These tests are important in indicating certain qualities of large land of water. That is key for the Earth!
Our next class we took was about orienteering. Orienteering is pretty much using compasses to guide your way through areas. A good thing about a compass is that it works simply the same way wherever you are! You see, a compass has a needle that is marked with a N to show it points North. This is simple and all, but how will this be able to work? It’s quite interesting. Before I say, let me remind you that the compass model must first off be light and frictionless because of our weak magnetic field. If not, the needle will not turn. So, the Earth’s core’s liquid iron is moving in a rotation and it leads weak forces like the compass on which way to move.
The activities we did were all about moving to certain places with compasses. The first time we used a compass, we dropped a penny on the grass and then listened to Mr. Ogden’s (the class instructor) commands of Orienteering. If you followed his instructions, you would end up on your penny. Mr. Ogden would joke and say if you didn’t find one of his pennies, you would owe him a pack of Diet Coke! I thought that was hilarious and motivated me to do better in the class. After doing the penny Orienteering a couple more times, we decided to do the real deal; team orienteering. We would partner up with a person and would start orienteering using instructions in a certain location point! My partner was Ethan L. and we did pretty well! What do I mean by well? We finished the race in a pretty good time while others took forever to be done. I felt that the Orienteering in all was easy. The hard part was in the race, you had to find letter points. I thought that part was hard. But, fun nonetheless.
After Orienteering, we headed near the campfire to learn Fire Building! The camp instructor there taught us about how to build a fire and what you need in a fire. To build a fire, you need 3 things. Those things are tinder, kindling, and fuel. I thought that was one of the best tips yet because I thought you didn’t need the tinder, the little things you burn. I thought you only needed a big source to burn! The only activity we did here was to build a fire! I got into a group with Ethan L, Theo J, and Kusa P. We made a fire using the log cabin format. The log cabin format is when you pretty much criss-cross the kindling and put the tinder all below it. So to make a fire, you have to have a good layout of your kindling, and that you have enough tinder, kindling, and fuel, Sadly, the wind was there at our time so only 1 team got their’s to actually burn! I was kinda bummed that we couldn’t set ours on fire, but at least I learned how to build a fire just in case I might need to!
In the Group Games session, we just played different games against each other! Personally this was my favorite because we got to play sports! The first game we played was Ultimate Nerf Football. It’s pretty much where someone has the football and they cannot move their feet. What they can do is pass to a person who can move. You can move by not having the ball. Once someone receives, they try to pass on again until you score a touchdown! If you don’t get a catch or your pass gets intercepted, it’s a turnover. The defense’s goal? To force turnovers. The thing I liked about Nerf was that you could only pass. This makes it better instead of running with the ball which would be unfair with the quick players. What I didn’t like is that we weren’t forced to pass to different player each time. I think that would’ve brought more teamwork and strategy into the game.
The next game we played was Capture The Flag (CTF)! The game is simple, GO FOR THE FLAG AND BRING IT BACK TO YOUR TERRITORY. Where is the flag? On your opponent’s territory and you do not want to get tagged there. That equals being sent to jail where you can only be saved if a non-out person goes into jail. Then that person can get a free pass to their side with you! One of the things I loved about CTF was that there wasn’t just 1 game of it. There would be a best of 3 series which I loved. I wouldn’t like the fact if we only had 1 game of it! What I didn’t like about the game was that you could spend unlimited time in jail. If you are not out and you stay in the jail zone, you can stay their forever! I thought that wasn’t cool which made me angry. That strategy of just staying in jail and then everyone charging with you (the one with the flag) escaping was cheap!
The last game we played was the classic game of Kickball. Kickball is simple, it’s baseball with a bigger ball and you roll the ball. Also, you kick the ball instead of swinging with a bat! There are 4 bases, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Home. When you get Home, you score a run. One with the most runs wins. What I liked about the game was that you had your own teammates pitch to you. I feel I can trust my teammates to throw me a good ball. I don’t feel I can trust my opponents. I don’t like Pitcher’s Hand which is where if someone is running to 1st and you pass the ball to the pitcher, the guy running to 1st is out! I think this is cheap and instead should do the classic throw to the base. But, really? Who cared? The games were still fun and a great way to spend time in Outdoor Education!
After enjoying Group Games, we moved on to my most anticipated class, Archery! Seriously? What sounds cooler in my past classes than shooting bow and arrows and not getting in trouble! I thought this would be fun and it was. We learned the way you should hold a bow (shoot in sideways position) and shoot and arrow (hold arrow with 2 fingers and pull back bowstring). The instructor also told us to never, ever pick up our arrows with the tips facing up! Also, the instructor said when pulling the arrows out of walls, you should put your hand on the arrow and just slide it out. The activities we did in class were simple, shoot arrows. We got into groups and our groups each took turns firing. We would first get into ready position (sideways facing). Then we would get into loading position (load arrow). Lastly, we would get into the commence fire position (no need for explanation). Was I good? I was okay. I wasn’t Katniss from The Hunger Games. But, I was decent.
Our last class of the day was learning about nature! Yay! But to be honest, I thought this would be a boring class. But man, was I thankfully wrong. We learned mostly about the 5 senses and how important certain senses are to us. The first sense we took away was the sense of sight. We first did an exercise where we felt a rock or something else (not see). Then they (Señorita Bruzzini and Mrs. Wright) took it away from us, and then we had to find it again! I felt mine and I thought mine had a kind of lump to it and I knew it was a rock. So, when I had to find it, I just closed my eyes and felt rocks to see which one would be mine. In the end, I got it on my first try! The next thing we did was with a partner (Chippa C. was mine). We blindfolded them and then we made them hug a certain tree. Then we brought them back from a starting point and let them find it! I probably wasn’t good enough, for my partner found it. He then blindfolded me and made me hug a tree. I knew it was near the lake for when I asked if we were near the lake, he laughed. So, I knew which tree it was!
The next thing we did was more of taking away what Humans take advantage of, and that’s our hands. Chipmunks have to use their claws, which is what I had to do! Our hands were duct taped and we got to grab candy with our hands! Personally, I thought it was as easy as stealing candy from a baby (minus the baby) for I had big palms, so I scooped the candy up! Then, we tested our sense of smell by going on a scent hike. We had to smell for candy (smelled like peppermint) throughout the forest and whenever we would find some, we would yell! The good thing is that everyone shared the candy together which I thought was cool. The hardest part of the scent hike was looking for the candy. The candy locations were unpredictable which really made you only do one thing; search. I learned throughout that even though you can lose a sense, you can adapt using other senses. For example, you could be blind but if you have your touch you can still get through. Maybe that is why most people who lose something precious to them like a sense or a body part can recover so easily; because they adapt.
The Tower Challenge
Before we left Snake Road Adventure Center, I would want to do the most challenging thing in this adventure. That is A.K.A The Tower Challenge. The Tower Challenge is where you either climb ropes up 50 ft or you can rock climb up 50 ft (both options being spotted) and then zip-line down into victory! When I was doing this, I was so determined to get up to the top and to zip-line! When I was rock climbing, I just kept in mine I could take my time. So, when I couldn’t find any area to go forward to climb, I would just move around the rocks and look. I wouldn’t give up. I was too determined. My patience and determination paid off, for I got on top of the tower! I was so nervous when I was about to zip-line. The instructor up there with me just told me to “step off.” I was like ”WHAT!” She counted down with me when to step down, and at 1, I closed my eyes and stepped. I then opened my eyes and pumped my fists in the air with then an unexpected drop down. But, I was proud of myself and I didn’t care about that drop. I climbed a 50 ft tower!
Overall, I enjoyed Outdoor Education and believed it lived up to the 7th Grade hype. The food was shockingly good and I felt they really stressed the importance of teamwork and friendship. I not only liked the games there, but I also liked the education there. All the classes were so diverse and they were all well taught. Not only that, the activities really put everything we learned into 1 review activity. Plus, The Tower was so much fun! But most importantly, I feel they made the most of their surroundings. For example, they could teach Aquatic Study there since they had a lake right next to the Snake Road Adventure Center. But I repeat, this was overall a great experience. If I could have a chance to do this again, I would do this again in a heart beat.