The last week of October brought the seventh graders from the Bordentown school back to the NJSOC for their immersive annual trip in Stokes State Forest. The students arrived excited, well-prepared and ready for the experience. Thanks to Mr. Chris O’Leary’s work in planning the trip with the help NJSOC’s program coordinator Lisa Mills, the students had a schedule full of unique and challenging classes.
Leaving the conveniences of modern technology behind, one group of students went to Survival/Orienteering class. Orienteering is navigation using a map and compass, which remains an important skill for the United States military, the global trade industry, and any outdoor adventure. The students were trained in the proper use of a map and compass to navigate through the woods. They learned technical terms such as “shooting a bearing,” as well as the importance of using “landmarks,” back-bearings, and precision while they navigated. The newly established map and compass experts then bravely took on the challenging School of Conservation survival/orienteering course, winding them through the woods and the dense thickets of mountain laurel. The group stopped along the way to learn some skills such as fire and shelter building. The unwavering seventh graders remained focused and completed the course with astonishing accuracy. After navigating out the woods and back to campus, the students were confident in their new-found skills, ready to lead an expedition of their own.
A big part of the experience for the Bordentown school students is to embrace the forest and open themselves up to pushing and challenging themselves as well as being able to use the tranquil setting for self-reflection and growth throughout the trip. Students stepped right up at the Confidence Course, jumping at the opportunity to test themselves physically as well as offer support and encouragement to their classmates.
This confidence and teamwork followed the students on to the climbing wall, where they were able to scale the challenge rock wall like professionals, and to the archery range where the students quickly transformed into experts.
A highlight from the perspective of one of the NJSOC educators, was to see the students cheer each other on as they reached the top of the thirty-five-foot rock wall. As always, the group from Bordentown was a pleasure to have on campus with us, we eagerly await next year’s trip for some more October fun!
Written by Chris Shea