On the weekend of February 22-24, our Leaders In Action students joined us at the Outdoor Education Center for our annual Survival Overnight. This interactive weekend was developed to help our students get the overall feel of the OEC in preparation for summer camp, along with introducing them to the outdoors.
We played a name game to officially begin Survival Weekend, as some of the students are fairly new to the program. One goal of LIA is to increase student’s leadership and teamwork skills, which is the first step to creating a strong team. Afterward, we hiked several of the many trails that the OEC has to offer while identifying animal tracks and playing camouflage, a hiking game fit for every age (if you know it, you love it!)
Students enjoyed our next few activities that focused on native wildlife such as “What to do when you encounter animals” where each pair of students received an animal, acted out how they think someone should react when they stumble upon this animal, and then we discussed the practical decision. This activity helped the children step out of their comfort zone while using their own originality and creativity skills. The next wildlife game we played is known as “Wildlife Headbands”. Each student received an animal card, blindly placed it on their forehead, and actively wandered the room asking yes-or-no questions about which animal they represented. To relax, we sat down to watch Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax. As we watched the movie, we discovered and discussed the many specific morals. The movie follows a young man’s encounter with the Lorax, a majestic speaker to the trees. The man decides to take advantage of the environment, cut down all the trees for the product he is creating, and in the end is left with nothing as the forest is empty, and his wildlife friends abandon him. We discussed the ways he could have followed his dreams and still kept the forest intact. All the students participated with their own unique thoughts on the subject. This activity truly helped our students view the environment from an alternative perspective. The moral of The Lorax correlates directly with our environmental stewardship mission, and fit precisely with our upcoming Health and Gardening Unit.
As the weekend progressed the students also accomplished a nature scavenger hunt and a “Migrate, Hibernate, and Tough It Out” animal game. This activity awakened the students in the morning as they ran to the designated animal winter coping mechanism that they thought was correct; for example, “Skunks: do they migrate, hibernate, or tough it out?” The answer: hibernate! As the weekend went on we touched on the five basic survival skills: Signal, Water, Shelter, Fire, and Food. Students were not only interested in these learning points, but they wanted to be directly involved in the production of activities. The main skill we focused on was shelter building. Each student had the opportunity to design and create their own shelter out of natural materials. Our FLOC’s Wilderness Voyager Camp, offered this summer, will heavily cover those five vital survival skills in an exciting hands-on approach, as well as offering the students an amusing camp experience.
Each Leaders In Action student was able to form their own organic experience at Survival Night. While enjoying time with new friends, the students achieved all levels of active participation by learning about their environment, accomplishing native wildlife games, and becoming comfortable at the Outdoor Education Center.
(Sarah Nowicki is an AmeriCorps Vista at FLOC’s Outdoor Education Center).