Outdoor Education Center

Leaders in Action Students Focus on Healthy Living

(Rob Stull is the Outreach Coordinator for the Outdoor Education Center. This is a follow-up to the OEC’s Feb. 8 blog entry.)

The Harpers Ferry Middle School Leaders in Action students have made great improvements toward leading a healthier lifestyle. As reported in an earlier article, West Virginia has the fourth highest obesity rate in the country—nearly 32 percent of the state’s residents are classified as obese. Educating our youth is a powerful tool in addressing this alarming statistic.

The Leaders In Action program at Harpers Ferry Middle School has been focusing on healthy living throughout the past semester. Through guest speakers, fitness testing, and hands-on activities, the LIA students have not only developed a better understanding of the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle but they have shown a significant improvement and their personal fitness levels.

Results from the pre and post-evaluations proved that all of the LIA students showed a positive increase of intellectual knowledge on the health curriculum offered implemented by OEC staff. One student even showed a 73 percent increase.

On Feb. 2, Suzy Munnis, Wellness Director from Shepherd University, and her husband James came to the LIA program and administered the Pre-Physical Fitness Tests to the students. The following tests were conducted:
 Height and Weight
 Sit and Reach Test (Flexibility)
 Step Test (Cardiovascular)
 Sit-Up Test (Strength)
 BMI (Body Mass Index)

Overall, students showed improvement in all three categories of Cardiovascular, Flexibility, and Strength tests.

Moving forward, LIA students plan to continue monitoring their health through the physical fitness tests. Taking the knowledge gained in this unit, the students will begin to look at ways of eating healthier.

Their next field trip will be to Claymont Farm where they will meet and work with the organic farmer and provider of our CSA crop share. The students will then come to the OEC and plant their very own organic vegetable garden. If you would like to learn more about the curriculum taught in LIA or to make a donation to the program, contact us at 304.725.0409.

Tutor Spotlight, Volunteer Spotlight

Tutor Spotlight: Alisa Wilson

(FLOC is recognizing outstanding tutors who have shown enthusiasm and commitment to their student(s) in a series of articles called “Tutor Spotlight.”)

On Saturday mornings, most people like to sleep in – but not Alisa Wilson.

Like many For Love of Children volunteers, she dedicates her time to tutoring. As a former mentor and girls’ basketball coach, she came to FLOC last fall after realizing that helping youth continues to be a big part of her life.

Alisa calls her tutoring experience at Randle Highlands Elementary, located in Southeast DC, satisfying and challenging – more challenging than she expected.

“The longer you’re here, the more you want your student to succeed,” she says. “It’s really fun to develop a relationship with my student. They let you into their life.”

While in college, Alisa tutored middle school students and recognized the value in going beyond their class work to understand math and reading concepts. Some math problems were difficult for her student, Donald, so she decided to try flash cards and found that repetition was helpful in improving those skills.

When Alisa learned that Donald was interested in black holes, she tailored the reading to meet this particular interest and asked him to read an article about the basic science of the phenomenon.

This is just one example of how Donald has learned a lot from Alisa, who has also learned a few things from him in the process.

“He’s taught me patience, to be more laid back and go with the flow, and that you can’t have an exact plan for life,” she says.

“Knowing that Donald is excited to see me every week – that gets me there. It’s all about brightening your student’s day.”

Would you like to recommend anyone for Tutor Spotlight? Please comment here or write to ntorentinos@floc.org.

News, Outdoor Education Center

Two Rivers Heritage Half Marathon, 4 Mile, and Kids Fun Run: Celebrate History, Youth, And the Joy of Running through Our National Parks

On-line Registration Now Open http://www.harpersferryhalf.org

Harpers Ferry, WV- A new running and walking adventure is coming May 14!

In October 1859, abolitionist John Brown and several followers seized the United States Armory and Arsenal at Harpers Ferry and brought national attention to the deep divisions concerning slavery. Over 150 years later the history rich parklands of Harpers Ferry again take center stage in events commemorating the Civil War’s 150th Anniversary.

On May 14, the collaborative between the National Parks and Freedom’s Run will expand as Freedom’s Run Series of Events is born with the Inaugural Two Rivers Heritage Half Marathon, 4 Miler, and Free Kids Fun Run.

The event will promote the region’s heritage, National Parks, local businesses, volunteerism, and collaboration while bringing attention to important issues surrounding family health, attachment to nature, and inclusivity for the large population of autistic children in the region.

The event will benefit two local non-profit organizations: Eastern Panhandle Indigo Children (EPIC) and its mission to improve the health and opportunities for children with autism, and The Outdoor Education Center of For Love of Children (OEC of FLOC) with a mission to facilitate healthy character development for youth and adults in a powerful outdoor classroom.

In 2009 and 2010, our region hosted the Freedom’s Run (www.Freedomsrun.org) through four National Parks. In the first year, the event hosted 1,650 finishers from 37 states. The event sold out in 2010 with participation of 2,700 runners from 42 states and became the largest event in the state of West Virginia.

Race Co-director Mark Cucuzzella runs the course almost daily over lunch breaks at his job at Harper’s Ferry Family Medicine. “This is truly an event of historic proportions. Every time I run this route there is something new for the senses and something challenging”.

Cucuzzella and local runner Patrick Schneble helped craft the courses. The half marathon will be challenging – with a mix of road and trail and over 1,000 feet of elevation gain. The four-mile encompasses the more gentle rolling grass hills of Harpers Ferry National Park School House Ridge.

Some of the major historical sites covered in the event include John Brown’s Fort, The Armory of Virginius Island, Bolivar Heights, School House Ridge, and the pre-Civil War towns of Bolivar and Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight: Adam

(Jackie LaRoche is a Program Instructor in the Scholars Program.)

When I told the 6th grade Scholars group about the FLOC blog, Adam immediately raised his hand and asked if students could submit their own work. Adam, a current 6th grader in both our Scholars program and our tutoring program, has a passion for writing, drawing, and exploring new cultures. I told him that we would absolutely love to post some of his work on our blog and within a week he brought me a flash drive full of stories, essays, and poems. Here are two of Adam’s original poems.

“The Apple Tree”

I know some people cut down trees

because I saw the leaves blowing by the breeze.

One day I saw an apple tree.

Next day an apple fell from the tree.

A boy ate the apple.

The apple was free.

That was the only apple on that poor tree.

“I’m Writing!”

I’m writing.

I’m blank and I have nothing.

The teacher tells me, “Get your head in the game.”

And I’ll say, “Whoa what just happened?”

I’m a dreamer.

You can’t blame me.

So here I am

Once again




A thing.



Vote for FLOC in “Roti Loves DC Back” Contest!

Attention, Friends of For Love of Children! If you haven’t already, follow us on Facebook so you can vote in a local contest for non-profits!

Check out Roti Mediterranean Grill’s Facebook Contest Page, entitled “Roti Loves DC Back.” They are looking for three non-profit groups to help celebrate the Grand Openings of their DC restaurants this year!

On Free Roti Lunch Day, customers are offered lunch on the house in return for a donation to non-profit organizations with the most votes. The nonprofits will receive a minimum donation of $1,000, guaranteed! Please vote for FLOC by “liking” our logo on their page before April 22!

Outdoor Education Center

OEC Promotes River Safety

(Rob Stull is the Outreach Coordinator for the Outdoor Education Center.)

As springtime approaches and more people are inspired to get outdoors, canoeing and kayaking along the Potomac River become a popular pastime in the DC area. While it’s a wonderful way to see and experience nature, everyone should be aware of the risks involved.

On the Potomac River, county officials, fire and rescue agencies and National Park Service officials began an education campaign about its dangerous sections. Online videos, social media outreach and essential signage along the river all warn visitors of the danger associated with entering the river. In some areas, the current in the river is more dangerous than an ocean riptide.

The Outdoor Education Center (OEC) is doing its part to educate participants about the importance of river safety. The OEC offers an Introductory Canoeing program to groups such as Girl Scouts, local schools, and our summer campers. This program focuses on basic river safety, equipment needed for a river trip, paddling strokes, and the skills needed to navigate through moving water.

In addition to our staff member who is an American Canoe Association certified Canoe Instructor, the OEC partners with River and Trail Outfitters (R&T), a local guide company specializing in quality river experiences. Each year, an instructor from R&T provides our summer staff the necessary training to lead the canoe trips we offer to our program participants.

The OEC staff feels through proper education and training, we, along with the many other organizations around the DC Metropolitan area, can eliminate the number of river deaths that occur each year. To learn more about our canoeing programs, give us a call at 304.725.0409. Additionally, if you would like to learn more about the programs offered by the ACA, please visit http://www.americancanoe.org.

(1) http://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/Accident/view/

Scholars Program

Voices of Scholars: Love is Everywhere

(Kelley Thompson is a Program Specialist in FLOC’s Scholars Program.)

FLOC Scholars spent the month of February participating in a cultural exchange with students in Afghanistan. In doing so, they learned about Afghan ways of life, cultures, religions and traditions. Their Afghan counterparts took them on video explorations of Kabul and shared their hopes and desires for the future.

In exchange, FLOC Scholars shared much about themselves, their cultures and their thoughts and insights about the world. Throughout the cultural exchange, the Afghan students and FLOC Scholars identified many differences and commonalities that exist between the two groups, which sparked interesting and meaningful dialogue.

I would like to share one particular exchange, as it demonstrates how students in very different circumstances can relate to each other.

Students in Kabul sent FLOC Scholars a poem by Rumi, a Persian poet and philosopher from Afghanistan, who taught about love, kindness, tolerance, and peace. FLOC students compared the Rumi poem to a Black Eyed Peas song about love. After discussing how love can be universal, transcend boundaries and make communities stronger, they collectively wrote a poem about love, which they will send to the students in Kabul.

Love is a dangerous thing.
We become addicts from birth,
It is the doses of warmth and happiness that life gives us
That turns into love.
When we don’t have it we’re left cold and shivering and sad
Sadly there is not rehabilitation for not love.
Love can connect the souls of all people
And turn blood shedding
Into hug sharing
Love between people is one thing you hate
But learn to live with.
Love isn’t just a feeling,
It’s more of an action
And how you show care and respect for one another.
If you love and you could forgive,
And don’t think of the misery.
When I cry and see your face
You’re like love who came to take the hate.
Love isn’t just an emotion;
It’s an experience you grow and change from.
We need love to mediate the hate
In order to replicate a mindset that can elevate.

There’s no such thing as love!
There’s no such thing as peace!
Looking for love somewhere
Love leads to sadness
Peace is like laying on a private island with deep rich blue water.
Love is a connection of people
Love is access to bliss and hate
Love is tough
Love is something that you feel, that takes you on a high!

Love is a word easily spelled,
Easily written,
But hard to express.
Love is like a bright sun ray
That illuminates your pathway.
Hears come together to form
One heart, one world.
Love has no eyes.
Open the eyes to the world
And see who loves you.
Difference doesn’t matter if love is there.
Love doesn’t have to be about where one is;
It can be about where one is going.
Love doesn’t have to be in one place,
It can be everywhere.