“After this, we can survive anything!” was the exclamation as the students of Jersey City Joint Activities completed their ASE (Action Socialization Experience) challenges. Not only did the fifth graders arrive at the New Jersey School of Conservation on October 8th ready to learn, but they took the school by storm… literally! Prepared with their thinking-caps and raincoats, the students took Mother Nature’s showers in stride, building both teamwork and communication skills through the problem-solving activities of the ASE’s. Their next endeavor? Wildlife Challenge! Guided by the environmental educators at NJSOC, the students were given the task of teaching each other about native New Jersey wildlife. Maybe it was a story about Steve the Musk Turtle and how we should save a turtle’s habitat from development, or a skit about Ms. Otter who lives in the river looking for a breakfast of fish and avoiding Mr. Bald Eagle who would like to eat him for breakfast instead! Either way, everyone had a lot of laughs and learned a lot about our wild friends in Stokes State Forest.
Luckily, the rain was not to be and blue skies welcomed the kids on their last two days of classes. What was on the agenda? Perhaps it was Plant Life. There, students learned about the parts of a flower and gained first-hand experience as botanists, sketching out a flower and researching the species to report back to their classmates. Then it was on to Conservation Photography, one of NJSOC’s most popular classes. Students were challenged to look at nature from a new perspective as they took up a camera and ventured outside to find the perfect shot. Their best photos were printed out and matted as beautiful pieces of artwork that they carried home for everyone to enjoy.
However, cameras were not the only things firing away. During Archery students learned a little about the history of the bow and arrow and got to try their skill on NJSOC’s archery range. All good things come with a little bit of patience and practice and it wasn’t long before they continued to come closer to that awesome “bulls-eye!” That perseverance came in handy when the JCJA groups ventured to the Climbing Wall. Everyone gave their personal best to conquer their goal on the wall and learned how they too can tackle real-world environmental issues with the same kind of confidence.
With that all said and done, there was still just enough time to take a nice outing on Lake Wapalanne. The students studied their oar strokes and hit the water ready for the Canoeing Course! Racing from Rainbow Bridge through the buoys to the islands, everyone was having a wonderful time. Towards the end of their visit many of the students said, “I wish we could stay here longer!” And the educators at NJSOC wished they could too. Instead, we look forward to many future visits from the JCJA program and their wonderful students.