Memorial Middle School Weathers the Storm at NJSOC

The sixth graders from Little Ferry survive and thrive in Stokes State Forest during a rainstorm

Stephanie Sherman

Students have hands-on experience during the Early American Woodworking class

Ready and prepared for anything, The Memorial Middle School from Little Ferry arrived on Friday April 11th for a day of outdoor adventure at the New Jersey School of Conservation. Over ninety 6th graders poured off the busses and into Long House for their orientation donning rain jackets and hoodies in anticipation of stormy weather. After being briefed on what to expect for the day, the eight groups of students headed to the Action Socialization Experience (ASE) course to begin their day of team-building challenges.  These challenges included passing through the giant Spider Web and negotiating the platforms of the imaginary river and volcano crossings. As the students worked together to complete their challenges in only ten minutes, the forest was filled with both groans of frustrations and cheers of triumph as the students worked to solve their challenge. The supervising educators saw plenty of smiles and laughs among the students - even as the sky was darkening with rain clouds overhead.

During lunchtime in Big Timbers, the rain began as a light drizzle. However, it was not enough to dampen the spirits of the students who were ready for their afternoon. Some chose to be trailblazers, heading out with NJSOC educators to participate in Wilderness Survival and Orienteering classes, learning how to use the wilderness to their advantage. 

Others decided to exercise their more industrious side by taking Woodworking or Metalsmithing, in which they used early trade tools to create their own personal projects to take home.  Wooden candleholders, metal S-hooks and tin-punched pictures were just a sample of what the kids created from their time in class. In Conservation Photography, a handful of students used modern day technology to capture their memories and frame them to take home.


By three o’clock the rain was starting to pick up, but the sixth graders from Little Ferry were undeterred in their outdoor pursuits. It was off to the Archery range to learn how to shoot a bow and arrow and compete with their classmates in a friendly championship for the best score.  Some challenged themselves at the Climbing Wall scaling the 20 foot or 35 foot high wall despite the rainy weather.

Other students had an extremely wet and wild time Boating in the showers. Laughing and shouting, some of the children made their first strokes with a paddle or rowed along with their friends to explore the waters of Lake Wapalanne. At the end of class, it was hard to tell who had been splashed in their canoes and who was simply gotten wet from rain. One thing is certain, the students will definitely remember their adventures braving the elements at the New Jersey School of Conservation. We hope they had a warm bus ride home and return again soon.