At the end of October, the educators at the New Jersey School of Conservation welcomed back the students and teachers of Livingston Park for a three-day, two-night environmental education trip. During their stay, the students sampled a diverse group of course offerings including Water Ecology, Conservation Photography, the Climbing Wall, Confidence Course, Boating, Archery, and Pioneer Life.
The students that visit the NJSOC are at a pivotal age where confidence is an important topic of discussion. The Climbing Wall and Confidence Course classes’ main focus is to work through challenges that are out of one’s comfort zone but within reach for the individual. It is important to discuss with the students how confidence can be gained or lost, but can always, always be gained back again. With the courage to try their best, the Livingston Park students gained confidence that they will carry with them in the years to come. As an educator, it was a real treat to see these students rise to the occasion and conquer the challenges thrown their way.
Pioneer Life class is conducted in a hand-hewn log cabin built by the DeGroat family in the late 1800s. Artifacts line the walls of this building with objects used for shearing sheep, collecting water, and even using the bathroom. Most of these devices are foreign to our modern eyes, which makes it such an enjoyable class to teach. Before the Industrial Revolution exponentially changed the way of life in the United States, this was how some of the first European settlers lived. Experiencing the life style of the early settlers gave the students a new-found appreciation of how fortunate we are compared to life before electricity, indoor plumbing, and the factories that provide us with goods. This class illustrates that with hard work comes great reward: After trying their hand at splitting wood and building a fire, the class concluded with a tasty portion of Mrs. DeGroat’s infamous cornbread.
Archery at the School of Conservation is not only an exciting recreational experience for the students, but also a learning experience as well. Archery teaches students self-discipline, coordination, focus and goal setting. The very heart of archery is learning a step-by-step method for drawing a bow and shooting an arrow. Students quickly learn that by slowing down and focusing on one step at a time, they are more successful at putting arrows in the middle of the target. This is a great recipe for success on the range, in the classroom, and in life.
In addition to the classes listed above, the students from Livingston Park Elementary School also participated in Water Ecology, Survival, and Boating out on Lake Wapalanne. Each of these classes provided the students an opportunity to discover the wonders of our natural environment.
On behalf of myself and the rest of the NJSOC staff it was a joy to have the students of Livingston Park visit us once again. A special thank you to Billy Ballrad, the Coordinator for Livingston Park, as well as all the teachers who contributed to making this trip a success. See you next year!