Learning fun in the great outdoors

Sixth grade students attend YMCA camp

by Patty Unruh

Sixth graders from Gilpin County School attended the YMCA of the Rockies outdoor education camp May 6 through 8. The campers arrived on May 6 with sack lunches and great attitudes. Judging by the activities, it was a time of fun and learning for all.

Campers stayed in dormitory-style rooms with chaperones, including sixth grade teacher Christine Wilhelm, who led the group. The class participated in a wide variety of games the first afternoon, including camouflage, knot tying, and a soccer dribbling competition. The group completed day one with a night hike, where students learned about the human eye’s ability to accommodate light through the change in the rods and cones that enable people to see. They also experienced a surprise “light” show in their mouths from Lifesavers candies.

Day two began with team building activities that included balancing on a moving ramp, rope swings, “turtle shells,” walking on a “ladder,” and walking across a log while not losing contact with team members. All activities focused on the need for communication and support even in stressful or frustrating situations.

Students gave their reactions to the various activities. “The team building activities required a lot of cooperative skills,” Tori McBrayer commented.

“I liked the activities they had, especially the swimming and skating,” enthused Alex Wilhelm, while Juan Madrigal-Garcia liked the silly songs that the students sang around the campfire.

The rest of that day was filled with back-to-back activities, including outdoor living skills, where students had to build a shelter, and roller skating. A few of the chaperones even put on skates and joined the fun. After dinner, the group indulged in indoor swimming, then went on to the planetarium for the “Out of This World” presentation, where students were able to “see the stars.”

On the final day, the campers awakened to a light rain. Outfitted in their rain gear, they headed into the wild one last time for a lesson on beaver ecology. The students learned to identify the past and present workings of beaver habitats. Wilhelm observed, “Even in the rain, the students’ spirits were not dampened.”

Information for this article was provided courtesy of Christine Wilhelm, Gilpin Middle School language arts and writing teacher, High School expository writing teacher.

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