In mid-December just before the holiday break, 6th graders from Wenonah Public School returned to the School of Conservation for their annual trip full of adventure and ecological exploration. With the help of coordinator Bob LoCantore and the NJSOC’s Lisa Mills, the energetic students had a week packed with exciting activities learning about the natural sciences and building lasting bonds with their classmates and teachers.
During their stay the students took to the SOC’s smithy and learned to ins and outs of pre-industrial blacksmithing. After a compelling historical discussion and an overview of what tools and goods a local pre-industrial Blacksmith would produce, they were ready to take up some work at the forge themselves. All students worked hard with hammers and anvil, heating a bar of steel up to 1000°F and were all able to shape their own “S-hooks” to take home with them as proof that they can work with a forge. With charcoal and soot covered faces, students ended the class with a discussion about alternative and sustainable resources , moving away from fossil fuels, to produce electricity in the United States.
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 on how to properly use 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. Our 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. Stopping along the way to learn some skills such as fire and shelter building. The unwavering sixth 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.
As always it was a pleasure to have the students from Wenonah Public School for another great trip. Our faculty and staff at the School of Conservation really enjoyed our time with this special group and look forward to their return next year!
Written by Chris Shea