Friday, August 26, 2011

Fall Voyage

The following post was also posted on my classroom blog for the parents of my students. It tells all about our Fall Voyage - why we went and what we did - along with photos.

Our Fall Voyage was a big success and lots of fun for all. (I am thinking that we should change the name to Summer Voyage because the weather was far more summer-like than fall-like.) Below is a slideshow of photos from our trip. If any chaperones have any great pictures that they would like to share, just send them to me and I will add them to this slideshow. Remember you can either just hit play and watch this slide show or you can use the arrows at the bottom of the pictures to move more quickly or to go backward and forwards. Have your child watch it with you so they can tell you all about each picture. Below the slideshow are some facts, stories, etc. about our trip.

Why do we have a Fall Voyage?

We have a Fall Voyage for many reasons.

  • We take voyages to push students just a little bit out of their comfort zone. Real learning occurs when you are pushed out of your comfort zone and are challenged to try things you have not done before. For some first graders the biggest challenge is simply being away from home for a night and learning that they can trust other adults and themselves. For others the challenge is being responsible for themselves and their gear instead of counting on mom or dad to keep track of everything. Most are challenged some way by the activities of the voyage. They must learn to work together, show perseverance when trying to find solutions to challenging problems, push themselves physically, and start to show independence in an age-appropriate manner.
  • I love the voyages because I get to see the students in a completely different environment and see other strengths that they have that might not show up in a classroom.
  • The voyages are also a great place for the students to practice the character traits that we have been working so hard to learn in class. Students also bring back some of the confidence and new skills that they learned on the trip and are able to apply them to academic learning.
  • We also all form tight bonds as a crew and are able to work very well together for the rest of the school year.

For a detailed description of the school’s philosophy for our Adventure Education trips, please see the Parent Handbook at the very bottom of the Adventure Education page of the Renaissance website.

What did we do at Camp Elim?

In addition to eating, sleeping, packing, unpacking and taking care of ourselves, we also had time for some learning and some fun. Listed below are the activities we did along with a very short description.

Initiatives (Problem Solving Challenges)
Bag It – This activity had us feeling objects in bags to try to figure out what they were without looking. We learned to use other senses rather than simply rely on sight to gather clues and make decisions. The best part of this activity for most students was that we did it in the teepee.

Mine, Mine, Mine – This activity was a trust walk with a twist. Students were blindfolded. The blindfolded students were led to a tree and they had to feel their tree and notice all of its features. Next the students were taken back to the meeting area and they removed their blindfolds. Then they had to go and find their tree only this time they were not wearing a blindfold. We also played another blindfold game at this station where students were "hunters and deer" and had to find each other or avoid each other.

Unnature Trail – This was a hike with a twist. We had to go on a short hike and along the way find items that were hidden along the trail that should not be there. Some items were very easy to find and other were very difficult. We had to really use our skills of observation to find things. This is when we saw a bear (teddy bear) in the woods. Many of the kids couldn’t wait to tell their parents that they saw a bear in the woods.

Stepping Stones - For this activity a grid of stones was laid out. Students had to figure out the correct path to navigate from one side to the other. This activity took lots of trial and error and lots of patience.

Recreational Activities
Craft – We created space monsters during this recreational activity. We got to use many materials including paint. Our finished products are at school. Thanks to Mr. Dan for transporting them all back for us.

Hike – On this hike our guide pointed out various plants and animals. We were particularly fascinated with the woodpecker homes and the burned areas.

Obstacle Course – This was a huge hit with all of the kids. There were many physical challenges at this station. I don't have pictures because I needed to be at a different station during this time. If any chaperones have photos of this and send them to me I will share them with you.

Solo Hike – This was a short walk with a stop for a little solo time to reflect on the voyage. The kids chose spots within a set boundary and they sat by themselves just thinking and looking around or writing or drawing in their Camp Elim journals. Ask your child to show you his or her journal so you can read some of their thoughts about the trip or see some drawings that they made.

Other Items

We had a big campfire and the chaperones were all a part of it. Two parents, Mr. Joe and Ms. Heather, were involved in a skit that led to many giggles and belly laughs. All of the other parents had knock knock jokes and other jokes to share with the kids. We also did the old campfire standard - we sang "I'm Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee".  Apparently some of the boys were writing their own version of this during journal time before bed. You will have to ask the male chaperones for the details.

The meals were very good. For dinner we had barbeque chicken, green beans,potato salad and jello. We had mint chocolate chip ice cream cake for dessert. For breakfast we had pancakes and sausage. There was also a breakfast bar with fruit, granola, oatmeal and hard boiled eggs. Then for lunch we had sloppy joes, french fries, carrots and water melon with rice krispy treats for dessert.

The kids kept all of the adults smiling with their very cute comments. Just a few examples:
  • When our hiking guide picked a weed to show us, one student asked if his boss knew that he was doing that. 
  • The students were very worried on the bus ride up that the bus might run out of gas.
  • While on the hike students kept asking if we were lost even when the camp was clearly visible.
  • One student's mom told her to be sure to spin on the tire swing because it was healthy for her. (Okay, so that is not true but it was an attempt to get to spin on the tire swing because we were limiting time on the tire swing because the spinning made kids too dizzy.)
There are many more but I can't remember them all. I am hoping that the chaperones will share some cute stories in the comments of this post.

It really was a wonderful trip. Thanks again to all of the chaperones who gave so generously of their time. Chaperoning is just like parenting or teaching – the toughest job you will ever love.


  1. THANK YOU for sharing this out.
    I read the blog post FIRST and then went back to look at the pictures.
    What a great idea and thank you for sharing it with us.

  2. Sounds fabulous. What a wonderful experience for everyone!