Students Acquired 20 Service Learning Hours for Participation in Outdoor School
For two consecutive one-week intervals in May, nearly 600 sixth grade students from Braddock, Mt. Savage, Washington, and Westmar Middle Schools had the opportunity to visit the NorthBay Adventure Center in Cecil County, Maryland, to participate in residential outdoor school.
NorthBay’s mission is “to challenge middle school students to realize that their attitudes and actions have a lasting impact on their future, the environment and the people around them by using approved Maryland State Department of Education curriculum and the outdoors as an integrating context.”
Courtney Winner, sixth grader at Westmar Middle School, stated "At NorthBay I had the best week of my life. I did the zip line - that was the best. I also met a lot of new people and many new friends."
This was the first time that Allegany County students have been able to partake in this five day environmental and character education program. According to Braddock principal, Danny Carter, “The NorthBay program was excellent for outdoor education-one of the best I’ve experienced. It was also a great opportunity for the students to learn about biological and character filters in their lives.”
Sixth grader at Washington Middle School, Levi Johnson, echoed Mr. Carter's sentiments. "NorthBay was great. The food was awesome; the zip line was amazing; and the educators were inspiring."
The Board of Education must meet an environmental education mandate from the state that requires an environmental education experience for all students at all school levels, and this field trip fulfilled this requirement as well as enabled students to acquire twenty service learning hours towards the seventy-five hours required for graduation. Those students who did not participate in NorthBay had the opportunity to earn those service learning hours by participating in environmental activities at their home schools.
A typical day at NorthBay began with breakfast, immediately followed by morning educational lessons. Some typical session topics included the wetlands and the analysis of sediment samples. Mt. Savage sixth grader, Justin Bryant, stated “I enjoyed learning about biotic and antibiotic life forms. NorthBay was a great place to go and just have fun learning.”
After lunch the students participated in warm-up activities that utilized environmental issues as the topic. The groups then had the opportunity to work cooperatively on team building exercises in a number of settings around the camp. The afternoon educational sessions covered lessons on plants, animals, nutrition, and the ecosystems.
According to Trevor Porter, student at Braddock Middle, “I learned the difference between a turkey vulture and a regular vulture, where they live, and how they help us by eating dead animals on the road.” Chad Flanagan, student at Braddock, also found the educational lessons very informative. “I learned that you can eat wild onions and not get sick.”
Jacob Timney, sixth grader at Mt. Savage Middle, enjoyed the lessons about trees. “I learned how trees can help us live and how to measure their heights.” Faith Broadway of Braddock Middle echoed Jacob’s sentiments. “The NorthBay staff was very helpful and friendly. They taught us a lot about different trees and their different shapes.”
The students had the opportunity to participate in a number of activities each day including an outdoor wall, a ropes course, an 80 ft. zip line above the Chesapeake Bay, scavenger hunts, games, kayaking, hiking, arts and crafts projects, and activities in the gym. The consensus among the students was clear – the zip line was the best part! Chandler Sagal, sixth grader at Westmar Middle School enjoyed the activities that the camp had to offer. "I thought that NorthBay was awesome. I really enjoyed the climbing wall and the fish lesson."
During dinner the students were still learning. The NorthBay staff discussed recycling, composting, and waste with the group during what they called “Food 101”. The students were responsible for setting and clearing their tables at each meal. Samantha Zimmerman of Braddock Middle found the accommodations at the camp quite comfortable. “I was grouped with a lot of nice girls. The cabins were warm and the food was really good.”
Every evening prior to going to bed, the entire group gathered in the theatre for NorthBay LIVE to discuss topics relevant to character development and the various issues facing young people in their lives. According to Mt. Savage principal, Gary Llewellyn, “I was impressed by the hands-on learning students were doing. Not only were they learning about the environment by being in the water, forest, and habitats, but they were applying concepts learned from those experiences to their lives.”
Nate Condor, sixth grader at Braddock Middle, stated “I learned that there are so many things you thought only affect you that actually affect many other people around you.” Discussions on character education continued after the program with parents and counselors each evening.
Darby Twigg, sixth grader at Washington Middle School, stated "I liked NorthBay LIVE the best. I looked forward to it everyday."
The entire NorthBay experience was successful in marrying real science, social studies, and language arts lessons with character education. Gary Llewellyn stated “After talking about what natural filters protect the Chesapeake Bay, teachers had students consider what people serve as filters for their lives that help protect them and enable them to achieve personal success. It was a tremendously valuable experience for our students.” Samantha Kessler, sixth grader at Washington Middle School, felt the same way. "NorthBay was an exciting experience from the zip lines to the ropes course to just walking on the beach."
For more information on the NorthBay Adventure Center visit their website at www.northbayadventure.com.
Additionally, interested parties may visit www.northbaylive.net to view pictures of Allegany County students at the camp.
Click here to view a PowerPoint presentation created by Krista Rose of Braddock Middle School.
Click here to view a video of Allegany County students on their NorthBay adventure.