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February 11, 2011


heading into the woods
A 6th-grade class heads into the woods for a day of Winter Survival.

When they show up at Porter Lake for Winter Survival, the 6th grade students should be dressed warmly, because they are going to be outside for most of day one, which is for practice, and all of day two, during which they will put to use the survival skills they have

How to build a shelter to help protect them from the elements, how to build a fire to keep warm and heat their lunch over it, and how to break camp and leave their area the way they found it are the major lessons of day one.

On day two, students work on their own, with teacher supervision.

In order to succeed, students learn to work together to reach a common goal. Weather conditions and being in an unfamiliar place are motivators that encourage cooperation, which is the goal of this program.

By the time they reach the bus to take them back to school after surviving a winter's day outdoors, the students realize the importance of working together as a group, because students cannot individually master each skill they learned on day one. And despite all the work it took to survive, many of the students say that Winter Survival was the most fun they have had at ECOS.

Winter at the cabin
The day starts out sunny and cold at the cabin on Porter Lake.

Tying a knot
On day one, the first lesson is practice-shelter building. Learning how to tie the knots in order to string a rope between two trees is the first step. The rope will hold up the shelter.

The shelter
It takes group effort to put the shelter together. While some students work on attaching the rope, others gather the poles and pine fronds -- which come from used Christmas trees -- that make up the shelter. After everything is up, sometimes the rope needs to be tightened, as these two students are doing.

fire building
The second lesson on day one is how to build a fire by placing small to larger pieces of dry wood on a platform of small branches. The students have to pay close attention because they are going to build their own fires the next day and they are given only one match to light them.

feeding the fire
After the fire is started, the students are taught how to keep it going with "feeder wood." When there is no snow on the ground, a perimeter must be cleared around the fire to make sure it doesn't spread. When there is snow, it is used to put out the fire. When there isn't, the students must get some water from a nearby source, or bring some along.

While walking from the cabin to practice and camping areas, the teachers at ECOS take advantage of the time to point out to the students the way other animals like these ducks adapt to and survive winter.

Canada GeeseThe Canada Goose and the Mallard Duck are two species of water fowl that stay in the ponds over the winter.

camp setup
A typical camp set up by the students with supervision on the second -- all outdoors -- day of Winter Survival.

A winter survivor heats his lunch.

Keeping warm
While the other students finish lunch, two students stand by their fire to keep warm as snow starts to fall.

Heading BackOne of the classes heads out of the woods, lugging equipment, after breaking camp.

Back to school
The sixth graders head for their buses, having officially survived Winter Survival.

Posted by mpdoran at February 11, 2011 11:39 AM