Education Matters: Outdoor Education

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For 60 years, school kids have been visiting Atwood Center, one of the Rockford Park District’s hidden gems.  Students at Barbour Two-Way Language Immersion School recently took part in the outdoor education experience.

Fifth graders hiked through the woods during an overnight field trip.

“We really want them to feel like nature is part of their life and understand that nature is right here, in the neighborhood and in the community that they live in,” said Becky Stokes Lambert, Manager for Outdoor Recreation and Education for the park district.

Students got a chance to interact with their teachers and classmates in a different setting from the city streets of southwest Rockford.  From nature hikes, to a tag-like game of Predator and Prey, students explored the park’s more than 300 acres.

“The teachers would come out and play with us,” said Jonathan Mata-Bolandi, a 5th grader at Barbour.  “They would … be like the hunters that would hunt the herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores.  It was fun.”

Students spent two days in the great outdoors.

“The best part is the food,” said student Alondra Tessman.  “It was really good, because they serve us breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Then, after that we do trivia.  It’s really cool.”

In addition to the food and fun, students learned important basic survival skills.

“We gathered sticks,” said student Alexis Avina.  “We found a place to make a good shelter if we get lost in the woods.  I thought it was going to be boring.  But, turns out it’s actually fun.  We do different activities and lots of things.”

Students also got a chance to learn about archery and put their skills to the test.

“I never shot an arrow before,” said student Uriel Gonzalez.  “Once in a lifetime for me.”

For many of the students, exploring the outdoors is a new experience.

“It was much more than I expected,” said Tessman.

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