Thursday, May 28, 2009

Why Going to Overnight Camp With Urban Fourth Graders is Worth It

1. One group learned that it is more rewarding to watch a turtle make its way to the pond rather than poking it with a stick.

2. Many of them fished for the first time in their life, and some of them caught fish for the first time in their life. One of them even caught her arm with a fishhook (which was our first serious camping accident ever and WE learned that all the paperwork we require pays off when you have to take someone else's child to the hospital). 

3. A big group of early risers found out that messing around at the pond before breakfast is at least as much, and possibly more fun than heading straight for the couch and the TV cartoons.

4. All that worrying about the dance melted away as fast as the Popsicles we had afterwards when they saw that the Virginia Reel was no more than an organized game of tag set to music.

5. It's just as much fun to yell-sing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot in the gym at camp while dancing the Virginia Reel as it is to sing it beautifully on the risers in your good clothes in front of your parents for the fourth grade concert.

6. They get to play dodge ball in a big open field with soft balls that don't really hurt...with the parents and teachers. There should be far more opportunities for kids and adults to just play together.

7. On the second day, everybody either has bad hair or is wearing their hat (even at meals).

8. Simon Says. The guy at camp who runs the Simon Says games after meals is brilliant. Brilliant, I say. If we played Simon Says every day for a year, would my students' overall listening skills improve, or would they still only be able to focus that well for the game? I wonder...

9. My cabin of girls went outside and looked at the stars before we went to bed. We saw one of the dippers (who cares which one) and picked out the star we wanted to be the North Star and made up a few constellations of our own.

10. We teachers learned (yet again) to never make assumptions. One of our Muslim boys disappeared between dodge ball and the dance. (Where could he be? How dare he run off by himself?) He was found in short the boys' bath house, saying his evening prayers. Now we know that besides making accommodations and plans for food restrictions, medications, and health issues, we need to pay more attention to our students' religious needs. And probably not just at camp...

So why is going to overnight camp with urban fourth graders worth it? 



  1. This is beautiful. Hurrah for more opportunities to play!

    #7. I'm going camping this summer, so I must get my hair to pony-tail length. Or it'll be hats. all. the. time.

  2. Last week we did our third grade over night trip. It tied in to Denver/Colorado history, so we stayed in a historical mansion. girls in the ballroom and boys in the bowling alley. Before the trip the kids worked on building models of Denver landmarks. When we got close to Union Station one young latina girl said "I can't believe we are going in my building this is awesome." Once inside she said "I can just imagine it filled with thousands of travelers!"

    I learn more then the students on this trip. It reinforces the importance of getting students outside the building!

  3. Anonymous11:36 AM

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  4. Anonymous11:36 AM

    I loved this post - I learn more about my students on these trips than in ten days in the classroom.

  5. We took our fifth grade students every year for a two-day camp-out, and it was THE highlight of the year. Preparation was never fun (and you can bet there was plenty of complaining while setting up the tents), but it was always worth it in the end.

    Thanks for sharing your story. It made made heart swell. (And that's a very good thing these days.)

  6. I went for my 11th Camp Kern trip this year and I loved it just as much as I did the first trip! Nothing and I mean NOTHING builds friendships like CAMP! Too bad we don't do it the first week of school. Of course at that point it would be 100 degrees instead of the nice 60 degrees we get the first week in May.

  7. I love this ML. Some of my favorite memories were of camp...what a great experience for everyone!

  8. We had fifth grade graduation today. Every single speaker (and I'm not exaggerating) talked about Balarat, our fifth grade overnight camp. Such special memories!

  9. I actually missed it this year..I can't wait to hear more about it and everything else. Call me when the craze of the last week is over.


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