I’m Charlie Graham. As a teacher of fifth and sixth graders for almost thirty years, the incredible power of Outdoor School, an environmental experience, was just so obvious. The years that I had Outdoor School were substantially different than years that I did not have Outdoor School to go to. The amazing thing is the kinds of kids that come to the surface are not necessarily the same kids you seesucceeding in the classrooms. The best Outdoor School kids are the ones that we miss in the classroom, and it was extremely important what came from Outdoor School. Outdoor School became a springboard activity for all kinds of learning that was authentic and real and meaningful to the kids (the culture that it developed because of that close feeling among kids was amazing), but the springboard effect was incredible: how I could bring math, reading, science, writing—especially because it’s personal experience—and tie it all back to an experience in Outdoor School.
Outdoor School is an absolute necessary item in a budget and it’s the best bang for the buck that you can have in these days of overemphasis on testing. This is what can motivate and drive a kid to really love learning.