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The Benefits of Outdoor Education

Camp Ondessonk Benefits of Outdoor EducationRecently Camp Ondessonk staff sat down with teacher Barbara Scarlett to discuss the benefits of Outdoor Education programs within her school’s curriculum.

What educational, social, spiritual, and personal benefits do you believe outdoor experiences afford your students they cannot get in a traditional classroom setting?

I cannot begin to verbalize all of the educational, social, spiritual, and personal benefits that outdoor education provides to my students.  My students learn more in one week than they learn all year from me.  I tend to mix up the day groups, and students make new friendships during our one week stay.  Each student gets a chance to be independent or at least more independent than they are at home.  I have had a parent, who was a chaperone, tell me that their child did more on their own in 24 hours than they had their entire 11 years of life.  She saw that she did too much for him and was going to change that when they got home.  Students push themselves outside their comfort zones and find success that they did not know existed inside of them.  We always have a reflection piece at the girls camp, and these girls start to see themselves as women ready to take on the world.  It is hard to say all the wonderful things that my students get from this outstanding program as it is life changing for my students.  They see that they can unplug from electronics and TV for the week.

Did you observe any change in your students’ social, academic, or behavioral dynamic, if even for a short time, after returning to school after their outdoor experience?

Students did not experience the usual behavior issues that they may have at school.  The students and I become closer during this week, and this is something that is only living together for a week can make happen.  They maintain their new friendships after camp.

If you researched other outdoor education facilities in your area, what drew you to Ondessonk specifically, and what do you think sets it apart as an organization?

I have researched some closer to us, but Camp Ondessonk has always provided everything that we need.  They have always worked with my school and me well.

When presented with the idea of taking an overnight trip to Camp, how was it received by parents, other educators, administrators, coaches, parish priests, and, of course, your students?  Was there any pushback, apprehension, or opposition on the grounds of financial, academic, or safety concerns?

Some parents are leery at first, but they always come around.  The students are apprehensive as well, but we have students who have been before help to market our trip.  We have received strong support from our administrators.

What feedback did you get from those same people, especially your students, parents, and other teachers who joined you on the trip, upon returning from a trip to Ondessonk?

They are always so happy with the trip.  The teachers are still behind this trip, and the students talk about this trip even in their 8th-grade graduation.  They go when they are either 4th, 5th, or 6th-grade year.  The parents always want to go back with their younger children.  The feedback is always positive.

For more information and questions about the benefits of Outdoor Education, please contact:

Greg Santen

Program Services Director
Email: greg.santen@ondessonk.com
Phone: 618.695.2489 x129

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