I hope that your children’s outdoor ed experiences allowed for some magical time outside of the classroom, fostered a greater sense of community, and helped them to find success and appreciation in new ways. As a community of educators, we are grateful to parents for making the trip possible, for the tireless efforts of our teachers and staff, and for the kids who show up with equal measures of confidence and trepidation, ready to step outside of their comfort zones. I think Horizons’ parent, Kiele Cox, sums it up eloquently. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kiele!
I wanted to take a moment to reflect and to share my appreciation of Outdoor Education.
As I told my husband,”27 hours of mountain air, blue skies and no cell service. BLISS”
Last year was our first year experiencing Outdoor Ed as a family. Four children went off to three different camps and I was excited for the kids and appreciated the pictures that were shared. My kids were clearly pumped by their experiences, but the descriptions were fairly flat and I was left with a simply ‘lucky kids’ thought on the whole thing.
Fast forward to this year. Four kids, three camps. But this year one of my kiddos really wanted me to come with them. And I had the space and ability to accept the invitation, take time off work, and throw my name in the hat with the other parents who were able to go. And my name was pulled out of the hat. I went in with expectations of working my tail off hauling luggage, kitchen and bathroom duty with little sleep. I thought it would be all work and no play. I thought it would be about me fulfilling a request of one of my children. I could not have been more wrong.
Instead, I met a team of parents ready to roll up their sleeves, work hard and then relax in the spaces between. I encountered teachers who encouraged us to enjoy camp, who kept a smile on their faces and enthusiasm in their voices – on less sleep than I had. I listened to a camp director explain safety procedures – leaving me with no doubt my other children were safe and secure at their camps if this is the level of detail and thought that is going into the experiences. I listened to our bus driver’s comment on ‘a quiet bus tells me there is a problem. I love the chatter of the kids’.
I smelled the crisp fall air and watched aspens change color overnight. I heard the sounds of children yelling ‘Oh Wow’ from the climbing rocks in anxious anticipation of ‘Heepwaa’ coming back to them. I felt the heat of the campfire and the excitement of children learning about our universe during star talk. I came back to a cabin being lulled to sleep by a ukulele. I watched in awe as our teachers used this time to build community, trust, and self awareness in our children. I listened as our teachers contemplated how to talk about the Aspens so the children would understand community and make a connection. I admired them as they helped 18 kids scamper up rocks to get the view of a lifetime, and then took them through a time of contemplation – all while making sure they were safe.
And then I found I was changed. I had time to breathe. To stop and recognize my usual pace is out of whack. To take in the mountain air and beautiful scenery. To listen as our amazing teachers intentionally grow our children through stories and experiences. And in turn to grow me.
Thank you for the gift of outdoor ed. For the countless hours that our teachers and administrators put into making this possible and organized and safe for our children.
In awe and appreciation,
5th & 6th graders enjoy a warm fire at 100 Elk
1st & 2nd graders at Gates Camp.