Fifth Graders Enjoy a Scary Good Time at Outdoor School

Bonny Slope 5th graders traveled to Trickle Creek Outdoor School Oct. 31- Nov. 2, to experience hands-on learning, community building, and an opportunity to spend time in nature.  Our BSE students and teachers were joined by Outdoor School (ODS) counselors from Beaverton/Salem area high schools who helped facilitate the week.

Despite Outdoor School falling over Halloween, kids had an awesome time and gained a lot from the experience.  “Halloween is always a fun time at Outdoor School. Yes, it is difficult for students to give up the usual Halloween experience, but once they realized that it would be a unique experience, most were very excited to have the opportunity,” said Christopher Basham, fifth grade teacher. “The staff did an amazing job putting together a rotation of activities in the evening that made it something the kids will never forget.”

Over the course of three days, students explored different field studies including Soil, Water, Animals, and Plants.  In addition, they created watersheds, measured dissolved oxygen, caught pond critters, and took multiple hikes to explore the forest ecosystem.

“The field studies were my favorite part of Outdoor School because we got to learn something new every day, and it didn’t feel like learning,” said Richie Nadolny, fifth grader.  “I was also surprised to discover how much pollution we cause and what products we use regularly that contribute to it.  Who knew that window cleaner is bad for the environment?”

“Outdoor School always does a great job of getting students engaged in hands-on science. They not only gain self confidence to advocate for themselves, but they also build a connection to the natural world and come to understand their own role within it,” said Basham.  He noted the entire 5th grade started its first meal with over 23 pounds of food waste.  The last meal had under three pounds of food waste. “Just by measuring our waste and keeping track of the data, we were able to make changes to our behavior that positively impacted ecosystems,” said Basham.

The week wasn't just about science education.  Students enjoyed the full camp and community-building experience including nightly campfires, quiet cabin downtime, and various team-building exercises.

“One of the best things about Outdoor School is that it is a powerful shared experience that our class gets to take back with us and remember all year long. It is an incredible way to build relationships with students on a personal level,” added Basham.  “My favorite thing about Outdoor School is to be able to sit across the dinner table from students and have a conversation - not about writing or reading or math, but about life!”