Treats, not Tricks at ODS

“The first time I heard about Outdoor School was when older students would talk about it and say how fun it was. Then, in sixth grade, our science teacher told us that we would stay over Halloween! I remember being really angry.  After all I was in sixth grade, that could be my last time trick-or-treating. When we started learning about soil, water, animals, and plants, I thought that Outdoor School was going to be a drag.

The first night, nobody knew each other very well.  People were quiet and unsure and everyone was nervous.  The next day we woke up and went to breakfast.  I sat only with my very close friends, as did almost everyone else. The first day we had animal field study.  I was amazed that it was in fact very interesting. I was able to learn with no homework and with my best friends.  I didn’t think too much about my cabin buddies, I just thought that I wouldn’t get to know them and that we would eventually go our separate ways.

That night we had a Halloween celebration. I started talking to a girl in my cabin and we became friends. The next days flew by so fast. Cabins grew closer, we all became smarter, and counselors became our friends, not our superiors.  I was so happy to be part of a big group of people that cared about each other.  Every day we grew closer, when we did the weather, set the table, sang songs, and had cabin time.  Every time our cabin was together it was a new adventure.

When the last day came we were all so sad.  We would all miss each other so much.  We all cried on our way home. The last day, I was chosen to water the tree that the whole camp planted. I was so proud that I earned all of my beads!  When I went back home I had so many stories to tell. Still, a part of me missed that week.  I still wish that I would be able to go this year.

Outdoor School changed me because I was able to see that some people did not have as good of a life as I do. I didn’t know that some kids my age were in such bad situations. I now have a deeper understanding of what goes on in my state that I was never aware of before. As a student, I was able to see that science can be really fun.  I learned new things about pH, animal skulls, trees, and flooding. I was able to learn more in a week, than I could in a month. I was  able to absorb more information because I was away from other activities and electronics.  

I was able to build community by spending time with the people in my cabin. Just going through daily activities and chores helped us all grow closer together.  

I think that you should keep Outdoor School going because it is a valuable experience for all who are involved. The high-school counselors get to have more responsibility than they would in their daily lives. The adult counselors get to teach kids and show them things about Outdoor School that maybe they did when they were in sixth grade.  The students learn that they are important and that they have to be kind and caring to everyone, no matter where they are from or who they are. They learn that science can be taught in different ways and that they can do anything they set their minds to.  

At St. Clare School, we are taught kindness and compassion in Kindergarten and continue to be taught other virtues until we graduate in eighth grade. We carry these on through high school, college, and beyond, but some children are not taught these.  Outdoor School teaches them these virtues and they are able to use them in their everyday lives. Outdoor School is an opportunity to change yourself and become a better person.”

                       ~ Clare, student
                          St. Clare School, Portland