I had the distinct pleasure and privilege of accompanying the Fourth – Sixth Grade students on an overnight trip to Babler State Park. While ultimately we want the children to enjoy a science-based experience, going on a trip like this creates outcomes that can’t be simulated on our campus, and ones that will serve our students well throughout life.
I cherish my time with the children and faculty in a non-academic setting. The flow of conversation and laughter easily surfaces, creating an atmosphere of warmth and community. There’s something to be said about sitting next to a group of students eating a snack listening to them banter with one another. They have no assignments to complete, no specific schedule to follow, and no reason to hurry. They just were just kids who enjoyed one another’s company.
While we had a number of activities including geocaching, shelter building and hiking, there were far more important skills the children learned. Many of our students have never traveled without a parent or adult by their side, so the art of independence is at the beginning stage. The students found it can be challenging to identify one’s belongings when there’s a mass to choose from on a parking lot. They methodically took their time to identify the rightful owners and then the task of moving the luggage into the living quarters was upon us.
It can be difficult to organize your belongings to carry a long distance. One student was becoming frustrated by the balancing act. The solution was to drop the belongings on the ground and ask me to carry them. This was a perfect, teachable moment and one that I immediately seized. We talked through strategies of organization to make this task attainable. In the end, after a conversation and a pat on the back, the child re-evaluated the situation, carefully placed each item, and proceeded with great pride.
Our students had common living spaces and learned how to share them. This space produced a sense of family, much like we experience daily at Rohan Woods. The sense of community permeated our interactions, so much so, that as we were reflecting about what we learned about ourselves, one of the counselors from Babler’s Outdoor Education Program asked to speak with our students. She told them how much she enjoyed working with them and pointed out specific successes she observed. She finished her talk by telling the children and adults in our group that she felt such a sense of community; one that she seldom observes at such depth with other groups of students.
This is why we do what we do. This is why we love what we do, and do what we love. We have a culture at our school like no other. Our children understand the pillars of respect, responsibility, and leadership. They work to live by them, which gives me the peace of mind that every one of our students will have future successes in life. As they grow and change, I am certain they will be happy, balanced, and possess strong character traits.
Continue the journey of teaching our children life skills this summer. Have them clean their room, pay for a treat, and count the change, or do the dishes after a meal. Remember, collectively we are preparing them for an independent future. Together, we are helping to build a community where your children are cherished and loved.
Enjoy your summer!