On Monday April 22nd, a group of 40 students from Anna L. Klein School's eighth grade class arrived at the New Jersey School of Conservation for an extended environmental educational experience in the pristine outdoor classroom of the New Jersey School of Conservation in Stokes State Forest. After arriving in the early afternoon, the group participated in a campus orientation, ate lunch in Big Timbers, and then was off to their first educational sessions of the trip. School of Conservation staff guided the eighth graders through an outdoor recreation and team-building experience at our multi-faced climbing wall and our low-ropes confidence course, to learn the importance of cooperation and trust. Other students had the opportunity to learn about the ecological diversity and interconnectedness of New Jersey's wildlife species during a Wildlife Ecology hike, while still others discussed natural history and pre-industrial culture before getting their hands dirty learning and practicing the techniques of a colonial metal-smith. After the various sessions ended, the entire school group met at Lake Wapalanne's dock and had a great time learning to steer row boats and canoes, racing around our boating course, and searching for spotted newts, turtles and fish. After dinner, the students relaxed and snacked around a campfire at Piney Point before heading off to the cabins to hit the hay and gear up for their remaining time at the School of Conservation.
On Tuesday, the students were up bright and early for a full day of hiking, learning, and sharing in a fun and educational experience with nature, their teachers, friends, and our educators. After a full morning and afternoon of educational sessions, the students had the chance to visit the campus trading post to purchase some souvenirs to remind them of their trip to the NJSOC. Later that afternoon, the entire school group participated in our Woodcutters Frolic session which is a circuit of field-day, lumberjack themed games and events which concluded with an exciting game of tug-of-war in which a group of students beat their teachers! Tuesday's activities ended with a night hike, which is a great opportunity for the students to utilize all of their senses and experience Stokes' natural beauty within the nightscape.
After their final educational session on Wednesday morning, the students packed their belongings, ate lunch, and said good bye to the School of Conservation and our staff. All of the educators at the School of Conservation were sad to see the students and teachers of Anna L. Klein leave our campus. We had a great few days working with the eight graders and were very happy with how excited they were to be enjoying, exploring, and thinking critically about the natural world and how humans can better appreciate and more wisely utilize our natural resources.
Anna L. Klein School's annual trip to the New Jersey School of Conservation has been coordinated by the school's physical educator, Keith Petry, for the past three years. Keith has been coming to Stokes with Anna L. Klein for eleven years and cannot wait to return again next year. He was very happy with all of the “hands-on educational activities” the students participated in at the School of Conservation and thinks that the annual trip up to Stokes is an important part of the eighth grade school year because it, “gets the students out of their everyday routine and into an environment where they can learn, laugh, and grow”. On behalf of all of the educators and staff at the School of Conservation, I'd like to thank and commend Keith for his enthusiasm and passion for his students and their educational experience. All of the teachers from Anna L. Klein School were enthusiastic and excited to be at the NJSOC, and their positive attitudes were indispensable in fostering the sense of wonder and joy that we saw in the eighth graders during their visit.