Upper Township School District Returns to the NJSOC

After a 16 year hiatus, Upper Township reaffirms its commitment to outdoor environmental education by returning to the New Jersey School of Conservation.

Jamie Hoffman

After a massive snow storm that dumped a foot of snow, the students enjoyed some cross country skiing.

The Upper Township School District once again made the long trip up to northern New Jersey and Stokes State Forest for an exciting environmental field trip for the sixth grade class. This year, the student were lucky to experience a full gamut of weather conditions similar to all four seasons!  This unusual weather pattern made for a very interesting week, filled lots of program changes to address the environmental conditions of the day.

The first day of the trip started with a chilling rain, but that did not stop the students from enjoying their first activity, the Action Socialization Experiences. The ASE’s are a series of challenges that are designed to develop team-building skills among the students.  During this activity, the students hone their communication skills and learn to work with others to solve the current challenge.  For the rest of the afternoon, the sixth graders participated in a variety of courses, including Pioneer Life, Winter Ecology, Confidence Course, Questing, and Beaver Ecology. These courses are based around a mixture of social and environmental sciences, along with outdoor pursuits.

The next day the weather cleared and temperatures rose to the mid 50s, which was perfect for the group’s outdoor activities. Some students hit the trail early and made their way up to the second highest peak in New Jersey, Sunrise Mountain.  Along the way, they hiked along a section of the famed Appalachian Trail.  At the summit, they ate their lunch while enjoying the beautiful rural landscapes of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. After filling their stomachs, the hike continued through Stoke’s State Forest to Kittle Field, where they enjoyed seeing a chain of small waterfalls, and along the Flatbrook stream looping back around to the NJSOC. The students completed a total of 12 miles on their hike!

After a taste of spring-like weather, the sixth graders were greeted the next morning with over a foot of snow! Everyone was very excited to see the surrounding forest in its beautiful winter layer. To take advantage of the snowfall, the students enjoyed cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing. Other classes such as Conservation Photography and Survival continued as scheduled, but the snowy landscape gave each course an exciting new element.

On their last day, the students attended their last round of outdoor environmental classes before packing up for their journey back to south Jersey. The NJSOC faculty enjoyed teaching this amazingly motivated group of students. We would like to thank the coordinator, Ms. Tracey LeFever, for all of her hard work in planning the trip, as well as all the teachers and parents that made the trip possible and contributed to making it a memorable visit.