“It’s just a different pace of teaching here, and the kids are having fun while learning” remarked John Orfan, trip coordinator for Grant School, as a hundred sixth-grade students bustled through the Big Timbers dining hall of the New Jersey School of Conservation. They were just the first wave of two hundred eager young minds ready to face countless new adventures as they passed through the campus of the NJSOC during the week of October 21st.
The menu for the students included the ASE (Action Socialization Experience) challenges, a rite of passage for almost all our new students here at the NJSOC, in which they kicked off their journey getting to know the members of their activity groups for the week. This endeavor hones the students’ communication skills by promoting both good speaking and listening skills, and leaves them a little wiser about themselves and their teammates.
Then it was on to the real fun - off into the wilderness with the environmental educators from the NJSOC, or with one of the excellent teachers from Grant who expertly taught many classes. Even Mr. Orfan got into the act, taking up the Survival pack and teaching students wilderness survival skills.
After lunch it was time for a brisk hike through Stokes State Forest on our Orienteering course. Students used their newfound knowledge of compasses to find the hidden caches with ease, and then it was off to explore beaver habitat and their signs in the Beaver Ecology class. Others went on to express their more creative sides, taking their own professional nature shots in Conservation Photography or making a picture holder in Colonial Woodworking using early American woodworking tools while learning the history behind true craftsmanship. With all that said and done, there was still enough time for some fun before dinnertime, including shooting some arrows at the archery range, a trip to the Confidence Course to challenge themselves on the low-ropes course, or maybe just a game of Octopus Tag in the Corral.
On the third day of the trip, the environmental educators wished the students of the Grant School a very fun and warm “good-bye” on a chilly autumn morning with a rousing round of New Games and a hearty brunch. We all hope the children not only left with full bellies, but also with full minds from their experiences at the NJSOC!