Tradition! Each year at Wightwood School classes from kindergarten through 8th grade had a year-end adventure. The kindergarten stayed overnight in the school building, each student accompanied by a parent, who would arrive to school on that Friday with pajamas, sleeping bag, favorite stuffed animal friend, and the anticipation of possibly a first-ever sleepover thrill. The 2/3-grade class pitched tents and camped for two nights at Trap Rock Ridge Camp, better known as Rob’s house. These were the start of memories that last a lifetime, from traveling to the Abbey of Regina Laudis, roasting hot dogs and s’mores at the campfire to hearing Rob tell the Leatherman story, complete with details that entertained, taught, and even one year offered a “live” visit by this historic figure.
These trips away were a chance for students to bond in a way other than what could happen inside a classroom. Traveling allows a person to get to know himself as well as learn to work with others, together discovering possibilities that arise from novelty and the spirit of adventure.
When Maria and I began the CT Experiential Learning Center, after Wightwood closed its doors, we knew from our years as middle school teachers that student travel adds a dimension to learning that was perfectly developmentally appropriate for the young adolescent who is in a process of self-discovery, craves independence, and still tends to play and be curious when given the occasion.
While we also do a lot of moving about in the world with students as a regular part of our curriculum, we have kept up the tradition of including a significant travel experience towards the end of an academic year. The group by this point in time has become more of a cohesive unit, knows each other very well, understands how to utilize effective communication strategies, and generally, is a capable team. The year-end adventure solidifies that ever so much more, celebrating and living up to the potential of further strengthening this team.
For this, CELC Year Two, we decided to incorporate our grand adventure into May. We will take a 7-day sailing trip to explore the Chesapeake Bay aboard the 46-foot ketch Boundless, with Captain Jeff and crew of Different Drum Sailing Adventures at the helm. Students are gearing up for this trip, literally gathering some gear, as well as getting more and more excited as the date approaches. This expectancy provides an additional boost of energy that is put towards academic studies with a concentrated focus in math, grammar, and other subjects; the same philosophy towards travel and field experiences is applied to each and everything we do as students who learn and grow, hence a classroom of the world becomes a reality.
Between now and 18 May when we set sail, we still have lots to do. Continuing our studies in all subject areas, travel to Tsongas Industrial History Center in Lowell, New York’s Tenement Museum, and more, it is no wonder CELC students thrive. Stay tuned for updates and student blogs … thanks for reading!