A few short weeks ago—St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick, Canada, was home for our Middle School students. We were on the field trip of a lifetime…spending the week at Huntsman Marine Centre working beside and learning from professional marine biologists. While this is a scientific excursion, it too represents a multitude of growth and new experiences.
For many of our students, this was the first opportunity to travel without a parent, relative or close adult friend. This was their first experience managing their belongings, food choices, shower schedules and time. While there was a definite structure to the day, students made many decisions throughout and learned from natural and logical consequences. For example, the children had the opportunity to gather marine life specimens from the sea floor exposed by the low tide in the Bay of Fundy. Marine biologists used this time to teach about aquatic characteristics, habitats, and food sources while building a healthy respect for wildlife and life at sea. During this experience, if you walk too far out into a mud pool that progressively gets deeper, ultimately your boots get sucked into the mud making it difficult to pull free, which keeps you from staying with your group as they transition to the next activity. This is a much more powerful tool of persuasion than an adult warning a child to avoid the mud.
We, too, work on developing leadership skills, an ongoing topic at Rohan Woods. Students quickly begin to identify those traits which are innately associated with being a leader. I asked the students to express quality leadership traits that they identify in others. The answers astounded me…inclusivity, patience, flexibility, collaboration, humor and problem solving. The students were then given a task…identify a leadership quality that you personally would like to develop. That’s a tall order for most Middle School students, but not students from Rohan Woods. Each child quickly rattled off individual benchmarks with excitement about tackling them. What an unforgettable experience!