The NJ School of Conservation welcomed the 6th grade students of several Somers Point schools to the campus for a 4 day, 3 night trip. During their stay, they experienced many different environmental and cultural history classes, learning both outdoor recreation skills and gaining a greater knowledge of their environment.
The students began their trip with ASEs (Action Socialization Experience), teambuilding activities to help them effectively work together. Each group solved challenges designed for their experience level. Through good communication and listening, leadership and encouragement, each small group tackled their obstacles and watched their skills improve throughout the class.
In Pioneer Life, Somers Point students had class in the Degroat family’s 19th century cabin while they learned about how the pioneers lived and the tools they used to cook their food and build their homes. Later, they chopped wood for a fire and mixed up a fresh batch of cornbread to cook on the woodstove that they got to eat after their “chores” were complete.
Students enjoyed some recreational time at the Climbing Wall, where despite the rainy weather, they practiced climbing on a 20 ft. tall wooden wall. As each student took their turn climbing, the rest of their group worked the belay rope to support the climber and cheered them on as they worked their way up.
During Survival and Orienteering class, students learned how properly use a compass to find their way through the woods following a trail with stops showing them what bearings to use and how to follow landmarks to avoid losing their way. As they traveled, they stopped to practice important survival techniques, including fire-starting and shelter-building.
Another fun activity, Wildlife Skull Stories, allowed the students to get scientific with identifying skulls of various animals that live in northern NJ. After a brief introduction about why scientists study skulls, the students split up into smaller groups and worked together to fill out a data sheet of their observations and make a guess about the animal species. Class ended after a quick walk outside to check out some local habitats and use observational skills to search out some real skulls.
The staff of the NJSOC would like to thank coordinator Devon Kallen and all the Somers Point teachers that accompanied this trip. We really enjoyed working with these 6th grade students and wish them a great rest of their school year. We look forward to working with Somers Point again next year!
Written by Mary Birrer