Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Outdoor School

As I mentioned in my Mother's Day post, Rick left on Sunday afternoon with his 6th graders for a week of Outdoor School. Before meeting Rick, I was unfamiliar with what Outdoor School (ODS) was, we didn't have it in Washington growing up. Students get an opportunity to learn about four science resources: water, soil, plants, and animals, in their natural setting. They stay in cabins, learn table etiquette at meals, have campfires and skits at night, and also learn about how to conserve the natural resources we have all around us. They focus on one of the resources each day, Monday through Thursday, and then return to the "real world" on Friday. It is a program only offered for sixth grade students, so all sixth grade teachers accompany their students for the week (either in the fall or spring) and all sixth graders in Multnomah County get a chance to go. I think it is offered in other counties in Oregon as well, but I am only familiar with this program. The program is run by a permanent staff at each camp and then a group of high school student leaders teach the resources. It can be a bit of a sacrifice for the teachers to leave their families for five nights, but most students call Outdoor School one of the best experiences of their education process and end up coming back as high school leaders, so I think it's worth it! I have to say, the week Rick is gone seems longer and longer the more kids we add to our family! :)

It also gets a little more difficult to go and visit him while he's away, especially when it's cold and rainy. It's only about 45 minutes from our house, but it's hard to justify taking the kids out in the bad weather when it's only for a couple of hours... however, we made the trek today and the kids and I got a chance to eat lunch with Rick. The rain and wind was just starting as we pulled away from the camp, so we timed it pretty well. Just like the students, the teachers stay in a cabin- usually all 4 of them in the same one and sometimes two of the teachers (usually strangers) have to share a room. (At least at the camp Rick usually attends) So, this year Rick decided to bring our pop-up trailer to sleep in, giving the other three teacher their own rooms and him a quiet, private place to spend the week. He was able to get water and power hook-up, so he's enjoying it!

The kids and I are really looking forward to having Rick home on Friday and it was a nice visit today to break up the week a little bit. All of leaders and teachers have Outdoor School names (usually related to nature in some way) and Rick's ODS name is "Paw" because in his first years of teaching he had a classroom community called Thamestown, with the tiger as the mascot... tigers have paws... an ODS name was born. They wear their names around their necks on flat pieces of wood and all students also wear them all week with their real names printed on them. Riley and Tyson got the full ODS experience today, receiving their very own name "tags"...

Both of these photos were taken in our trailer, just as the rain was starting. I was hoping to get some great photos of the kids enjoying the campgrounds, running around, and getting dirty... but dirty and muddy are two very different things!

I love this last photo for a few reasons: 1) Riley was fighting against falling asleep extremely hard on the way to the camp, until I finally looked at her in the rear view mirror and told her it was alright to fall asleep. She actually said, "Oh, okay.", closed her eyes, and enjoyed a 10 minute power nap... waking up when we pulled into the camp with renewed energy 2) She was very concerned with not letting go of her Ariel purse, filled with all sorts of toys from the playroom, and she was successful at holding it the entire way and 3) She is holding Cooper's hand... something she does often in the backseat. I love how much she loves her brothers!

Doesn't she look peaceful?
(and yes, I took this photo while driving, using the timer function and some really awkward aiming... which is why my hair and seat are in it)


Lisa said...

Outdoor school sounds incredible! That's wonderful that you and Rick sacrifice a week of having him home so he can do that with the students. I would have loved it. It's also pretty awesome that you have a pop up. Now you don't need to fly to Atlanta, you can drive here! =) I love the hand holding too!

Lisa Joy said...

Holding hands is so precious! :-)

Outdoor School was one of my absolute favorite things...actually, it was probably the only GOOD thing to come of middle school! I still remember the details like it was yesterday. When Rick and I taught together & he went to ODS, I tried to visit each year and it was so fun to re-live those days!