If there is one thing we have all come to appreciate more in the last 18 months of pandemic restrictions, it’s the joy of the great outdoors. There is nothing comparable to spending time outside under the expansive sky, connecting with nature and friends and family.
Because La Tierra Community School is an expeditionary learning inspired school, we prioritize experiences where our students live their lessons, and that often takes us outside the classroom. The field work and field trips we create are specifically to connect our classroom learning to the world around us. And once a year, our expeditionary learning model inspires us to go even farther and take a camping trip!
Camping in the Curriculum
LTCS is one of the few schools who incorporates camping into our curriculum for every student at every age. From kindergarteners to seventh graders, our students have the fun of planning and participating in a spring camping trip with their entire class. Our camping trips expand in duration and distance from school as the students get older; our kindergarten class typically has a one night camping trip at a lake in the Prescott area, while our sixth and seventh graders have gone as far as Mexico for a weeklong trip. Wherever they go, and however long they stay, they are having a fantastic time, learning in every moment of their adventure.
One of our beliefs at LTCS is that learning is both active and collaborative. Nothing illustrates this better than our camping trips. The students are active planners of the camping trips – using every subject matter they’ve covered throughout the year – for example, math is big when planning food, engineering is important when pitching a tent, science is paramount when observing your natural surroundings, and communication with classmates makes it all work.
Where Do We Go?
This year, we are planning the following trips:
- Kindergarten will camp for one night in Prescott at a lake (parents required to accompany)
- First graders will go to Lynx Lake
- Second graders travel to Sedona to pitch their tents.
- Third graders make their way to Tucson to visit the biosphere and Sonoran Desert Museum before sleeping under the stars.
- Fourth graders go to the Grand Canyon where they explore the grandeur of nature’s work over thousands of years and modern campgrounds.
- Fifth graders travel to Lake Powell for their camping expedition and add in a tour at Glen Canyon Dam.
- Sixth & Seventh graders will trek west to California to camp in Crystal Cove State Park at the beach, where they will hike and explore tide pools.
Why Do We Go?
The way we approach learning at LTCS is with an articulated curriculum of thematic unit learning, where multiple subjects weave together and support each other, so that understanding of many topics is achieved in each lesson. We choose our camping locations and trips to be an extension of the semester-long thematic unit for each grade, extending our students’ learning out into the greater world. And at the same time, we take the opportunity to teach our students how to take care of their world by teaching them the 7 Leave No Trace principles and helping them practice those principles throughout the trip.
There’s so much to love about traveling and camping together as a class. The problem solving opportunities are endless, and can be anything from logistical scenarios to social and emotional learning. Reading a map and helping navigate to a camp site can flex mental muscles in a way that’s hard to duplicate in a classroom, but feels fun and adventurous on a camping trip. Negotiating where to sit at meal time and who to sit with is an opportunity for social growth, and holds the potential to develop deeper relationships with classmates. And the sheer fun of playing and exploring in nature and seeing things never seen before cannot be underestimated – camping is the ultimate expeditionary lesson!
Different students thrive in different environments and our camping trips offer many options for students to learn, discover their own strengths and passions, and try new things. It’s also another chance for us to create community among our students, teachers, and families. Nothing brings you closer than a shared experience like camping.
At LCTS, we work creatively and determinedly to find the best ways for students to acquire knowledge and apply it in the real world. Camping is just one of many ways we nurture the whole child and inspire a passion for learning.
About La Tierra Community School
At La Tierra Community School, teachers, parents, staff, and students work together to create a school culture of collaboration, respect, and high expectations. Through our expeditionary learning-inspired approach, trust, respect, responsibility, and joy in learning permeate our community and our students know they can impact their world. Enrolling K-7 in Prescott, today!