Another personal story we received from an Outdoor School supporter:

For me, Outdoor School was the first time learning came alive. It was that single week, my 6th grade year, that ignited a now lifetime love of learning. Being a child with a learning disability, school wasn't always a place I felt like I belonged. It was hard and I didn't know why. However, my first day at Outdoor School I thought, I can do this! It was a confidence I have never felt in an educational setting before. It was magic.

I have since then been an Outdoor School counselor 4 times in high school, 4 times in college, and went on to be an Outdoor School program director for NWRESD. I wanted to give that magical opportunity that I got to as many other students as possible. While counseling in college I was able to be a one-on-one counselor for students with behavior and/ or physical disabilities. To see my campers, some in wheelchairs, some struggling with major emotional disturbances, what have you, getting in the river, catching fish, using terms like "evaporation" and "riparian zone" was when I realized the real magic.

It was then and there I knew I wanted to become a teacher. The instructional strategies and opportunities that Outdoor School offers are unlike those in any school. But I wanted to do what I could to try and bring some of that magic into the classroom. I wanted to show kids like me, that learning can be fun.

After 12 years of teaching, while I hope I have touched many of my students' lives, I know nothing I do in the classroom will ever compare to what Outdoor School offers. I can't give them a family, new confidence, collaboration, community, and the hands-on learning environment that Outdoor School offers. I can't give them cabin mates, passing dinners family style, ending each day together with songs and stories. This is the family life that many of my students don't have, that they all deserve.

Every child deserves this magic moment. As an educator I know the value of hands-on and building self-esteem through alternative learning models. And in the age of standardized testing, and constant pushing of kids, what a better way to give them confidence that they are learners and the ability to make those standards truly come to life.

- Alexandrea, Portland

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