K-M sixth graders learn lifelong skills on trip to Eagle Bluff
Earlier this month Kasson Mantorville Middle School sixth-grade students went beyond the school walls to learn about nature on the annual trip to the Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center in Lanesboro.
The lead teacher of the trip, Matt Nelson, estimated that there were 165 students and 40 chaperones that participated. This year marks the seventh year the sixth-grade class has made the trip.
“The trip has multiple purposes, but it is to get the kids in a different environment and to get them to do some things they are uncomfortable with, such as being away from home,” Nelson said.
Eagle Bluff’s mission is to “foster awareness, enhance respect and promote personal responsibility for the natural world, our communities and ourselves.”
Eagle Bluff is an accredited school and a non-profit organization that provides special-focus learning and enrichment opportunities to students by connecting them to nature through education.
The campus features 80 acres of woodlands and prairies with access to 900 acres of State forestland.
Nelson says he enjoys watching the students succeed and grow in ways they didn’t think they could. “It is really cool to see kids outside of the classroom walls and educate them in a different way; every kid learns differently so this is a chance for them to learn in a different setting,” he said.
During the trip students are grouped with students who they may not know very well. They not only have to attend classes with them, but they also have to learn to live with them in dorms, do various team-building exercises and group challenges.
“It was just really cool to watch them become one, a team, whether they were friends or not. They accomplished something huge that I know they were probably afraid of and they did it together,” said Sally Smith, middle school secretary.
The students attended two, three-hour classes a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon and had various activities at night. Students also had to write about their experiences daily in a journal. Classes ranged from science to adventure to culture and history.
Sixth-grader Brooks Buchanan didn’t know what to expect, but in the end was pleased. “First I was a little nervous because I didn’t know what was going on but then once I went it was a bunch of experiences that I liked and it was really fun,” he said.
Buchanan’s favorite memory of the trip was the one he feared the most, the high ropes course. “I am afraid of heights but I like challenges. It was pretty scary, but I did it,” he said.
Sixth-grader Catiera Thome went on the trip for the experience it offered. “I wanted to go on the trip because if I ever have children and they go on a trip I can say I did that when I was in sixth grade; it is a good memory for sixth grade,” she said.