The New Jersey School of Conservation was excited to once again host the seventh grade class of Thomas Edison EnergySmart. The students arrived eager to start their trip and their enthusiasm was matched by the excitement of NJSOC’s educators. The seventh graders carried their luggage up to their hillside cabins and gathered for an introduction to NJSOC’s rules and faculty. After refueling at lunch in Big Timbers, the dining hall, students split into smaller groups and headed out for their first class.
During their stay, the students were challenged to improve their teamwork during Group Initiatives. For this class, the group is introduced to a series of tasks and obstacles that require them to work together. While some tasks require multiple minds to work through a puzzle, others require the group to physically support one another as they cross platforms or through a rope web. Over the course of multiple challenges, the students learn that good teamwork is built on communication, cooperation, and respect. However, that wasn’t the only team-based challenge that Thomas Edison faced during the week.
Boating Skills offered the students a chance to test their new teamwork skills in a more independent setting. After practicing the basics of paddling, braking, and turning a canoe, the students each helped carry the canoes down to the dock and launched them in teams of three. Clear communication is key in piloting the boats around the lake. The students were also able to explore the banks and islands on a search for turtles, frogs, and fish. Some teams got stuck in the mud while exploring close to the shores, but used their handy new skills to free themselves with ease!
In Archery, the students had the chance to sharpen their marksmanship skills on our range. Once they brushed up on the proper form for shooting with NJSOC’s new compound bows, the students were able to unleash their more competitive sides. Cheers for hitting closest to the center soon filled the air. Archery focuses on starting from the basics, building a solid foundation, and practicing good form. This is an important set of skills to learn, not just from athletic and recreational standpoints, and we hope the students of Thomas Edison continue to push themselves and one another.
All of the educators at the New Jersey School of Conservation would like to wish the seventh grade class of Thomas Edison EnergySmart the very best in their future endeavors. We hope that they take the lessons they learned here beyond the trees of Stokes and inspire their friends and family to do their part to protect the environment. We would like to thank all of the teachers and counselors involved in the trip, especially the coordinator, Dan Brower. All of us look forward to meeting next years’ seventh graders for an equally enjoyable trip.
By Erin Keller