March 9, 2017

Jamestown, Mesa Verde, Mount Rushmore and Beyond

Our 3rd grade class preparing to go to Cal-Wood yesterday
If you are coming to our South Campus this morning, you won’t see our third graders being dropped off for class.  They have spent the night up at Cal-Wood Education Center above Jamestown.

On Thursday morning, the 3rd graders trooped into school weighed down by backpacks, hiking boots, and water bottles, prepared to spend a couple of days in the great outdoors. At Cal-Wood each year, two of our classes (3rd and 4th grades) make the trek into the foothills north of Boulder to participate in a wide variety of outdoor learning opportunities.

These excursions are just part of Friends’ extensive age-appropriate trips program that takes our students and teachers both close to and far from home.

Harper, 5th grade, orienteering just
yesterday in Golden
The trips program starts in 2nd grade with an overnight experience in our Great Room at the elementary school.  Students ‘camp’ with their teachers and a few gallant parents indoors, in tents that are not too intense (!), and learn from a science expert whom we bring in to work with the students.  For most, it is their first ‘official’ night away from home, and it’s a great experience.

In 3rd and 4th grade, our students visit Cal-Wood on a one-night and then subsequent two-night trip.

Each year, our 5th grade class embarks on a five-day, four-night, trip to the Four Corners region of Colorado.  They have a week-long educational experience at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center which is dedicated to understanding, teaching, and helping to preserve the rich history of the ancestral Pueblo people (the Anasazi) of the American Southwest. There, they spend three full days learning the basics of Pueblo Indian history, excavating at a site that represents different time periods, and participating in a variety of "ancient lifestyle" activities at Crow Canyon’s pithouse and pueblo learning centers. Their program wraps up with a day-long tour of Mesa Verde National Park, where our students explore the spectacular cliff dwellings and other
5th graders at Mesa Verde National Park in 2015
archaeological sites for which the park is famous.
In  6th grade, students go on a two-night camping trip in Golden Gate Canyon State Park in the fall. Their spring trip in May takes the class to the Black Hills of South Dakota for five days and four nights. During this trip, students connect to the middle school’s overarching question for this year, “How does Earth’s formation impact world cultures?” in several concrete ways. Through visits to Mickelson Rail Trail, Wind Cave, and Mammoth Site, they will explore elements of earth’s formation from the perspectives of geology, paleontology and ecology. Their visits to Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore, and the Crazy Horse monument will help them see how aspects of the area influenced the people who lived there, including Native American Indians, the Pioneers, and current residents and visitors.

6th graders combine active opportunities that take advantage of the local terrain with educational offerings that highlight the natural and cultural history of the area. This year, they will also take time to reflect on our first pioneering year and consider the leadership roles our students will play as 7th graders next fall.

Trust exercises at the Colorado Mountain Club this week
Of course, these larger trips are just part of our overall field trip program.  All of our classes, as our wonderful volunteer drivers know, take regular field trips throughout Boulder County, down to Denver and points in between.

Friends’ students are integrated into the greater community through regular field trips. These have included trips to pumpkin patches and organic farms, and visits to the Denver Art Museum, the Colorado History Museum, Colorado Mountain Club, the National Center of Atmospheric Research, Longmont History Museum, and many many more places.  

Helen Keller famously said, “Life is either an adventure or nothing.” All of us at Friends’ are very excited for our students and their adventures.  We love presenting them with opportunities to bond as a class, to give them lessons they might not learn back at school, and to recognize their desire and need to spread their wings as they grow. 

Bon voyage to all our field trippers!

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