I’ve seen thousands of students come off of buses and walk into nature, their hands free of machines, their eyes and ears open to the world. They’re uncomfortable and vulnerable without their digital safety-net. Although I’m a huge advocate for learning about nature, I would argue the most important thing that’s happening at Outdoor School is purely humanitarian. Students are learning to be social and part of a healthy community. Students are learning to observe and listen to nature, and to each other. Students are experiencing their peers and teachers on a whole new level. Students are learning that you can see millions of things on a screen, but a screen doesn’t allow you to feel anything.
I wish there was a before and after photo of every child at Outdoor School. Arriving, students are frightened, nervous, anxious, and shut down. Leaving, students exhibit emotions you want to see in your population. Students are kind, excited, active, smiling, caring, feeling, and charged up for more experiences. If you want Oregon to be a strong community, you must have Outdoor School. Outdoor School is where people learn to be human to each other.”
— MG, ODS teacher and urban land steward, Beaverton