Northland College and Camp Ondessonk: a Partnership in Education
By Dr. Evan Coulson, Adventure & Group Services Director, Camp Ondessonk; Associate Professor of Outdoor Education, Northland College
Eight undergraduate students from Northland College, a small environmental liberal arts school in northernmost Wisconsin, are spending a portion of their semester this spring living and learning at Camp Ondessonk. These students, who study Outdoor Education at the college, are enrolled in their program’s Professional Development Experience semester and will be utilizing Ondessonk as an experiential learning laboratory that will bring their curriculum to life by exposing them to opportunities to engage in a variety of onsite operations at a full-scale, outdoor education and recreation facility.
A major project for their semester will be to plan, facilitate, and then evaluate an outdoor education curriculum for Ondessonk’s New Simpson Hill School after-school program. These students will develop engaging progression-based sessions that will aim to increase aspects of comfort in the outdoors, sense of place, natural history awareness, basic outdoor skills, and a sense of trust in their peers. While primarily focusing their efforts on developing and implementing their curriculum for the after-school program, they will also benefit from exposure to many networking and professional development experiences available to emerging outdoor professionals at Camp Ondessonk. Since arriving in mid-March, these students participated in multi-day, team-building programming and a clinic on effective debriefing of experiential education activities facilitated by Ondessonk’s seasonal outdoor educators, as well as participated in a day-long trail-building workshop facilitated by former Ondessonk outdoor educator and current Shawnee National Forest Wilderness Technician and Volunteer Coordinator, Alyssa Macuiba. In the coming weeks, they will have opportunities to participate in many additional professional development experiences, including a top-rope, rock climbing facilitator training, an adaptive climbing clinic, and a high ropes course facilitator training.
Camp Ondessonk teaches what matters most. With this partnership, a new generation of outdoor education professionals will hone their craft on Ondessonk’s trails.