Outdoor Ed

By: Rachel Sang & Sadie Collins
Do you love the outdoors, and wished you could learn more about it? Then you may enjoy Outdoor Ed. Outdoor Ed is an overnight field trip where us fifth graders stay in a campus called Lorado Taft, in Oregon, IL. All the teachers of fifth grade, and many parent chaperones also come on the trip with the fifth graders. Outdoor Ed allows kids to be outdoors a lot, learn new things and learn about nature.
To get there, it takes approximately 2 hours on a bus. Once the fifth graders arrive, students usually have 20 minutes to unpack before you get ready to have some fun! Before students go, they have to do a few quick things. Students have to make a name tag with your name, dorm, table, learning group, and maybe you’re hopper depending if you get assigned one.
A hopper is a job that some students have where you have to setting up the table and serve the people at your table. You have to get the food and you have to clean up the table. Usually you arrive before your other classmates arrive, around 10 minutes or so.

We asked Isabel Stickney how she felt about being a hooper and what it was like, “I was a Tuesday lunch hopper, and it was really chaotic because we were the first people to be hoppers. Although overall it was really fun!”

One of the most exciting things is that you spend the night! You sleep in dorms. Girls have about 10 people in a room. Boys have about 13 to a room. For the girls you will be living in a “house” called “Heckman” You live in the upstairs of Heckman. In Upper Heckman two of the dorms share a bathroom. Bathrooms have 4 stalls, 2 showers and 2 sinks. The stalls take up one room, and the sinks and showers are in another room. For the boys you will either live in North or South Clarkson.

We asked Ben Streiffer what was in his dorm room for South Clarkson and he states: “You will have 4 bathrooms, 3 sinks, and 3 showers per dorm.” Ben also explains how it was like that day. “It was a thunderstorm that day and it was kinda dark too but I slept well. I expected everybody wake up at different times but that didn’t happen.” Lights out was at 9:30.

The learning groups just divide into different classes so not everyone is in the same class at the same time. The groups are letters A-F. Usually the groups get separated into A-B C-D, etc. Don’t worry, even though two groups will be doing the same thing, you will be separated. You shouldn’t see the other group that had the same class as you. If you ever forget what classes you have, just look on the name tag, and there should be the classes in the order of what you have.

The fifth graders have three classes. Survival, Pioneering, and Forest Ecology. In Survival you build fires, and a shelter with a group of people. The shelter is usually made from anything you find outside. Fifth graders will be split into groups, and then in that group you will build a shelter. Then when your done fifth graders get to go and look at all the other shelters! If it rains you will either go inside for the fire, on a concrete floor, or sadly, not do the fire at all. It depends on who is teaching you. If you have a Taft Staff teaching you, then you’ll probably just go inside, since there’s a professional there if you need help.

The next class is pioneering. You get to work with tools that pioneers used in day to day life. Vivienne Lisak said that the tools were her favorite part!There is an actual cabin from pioneer days that you get to explore. Be warned, the 1 tiny bed is very uncomfortable! You also will probably get to make candles, since that was their only source of light. You might also get to make popcorn over an open fire, or you might not. Mary Olszowka said that this was her favorite part of pioneering. I didn’t have that opportunity, but I know a lot of other groups did. You are mostly outside, but if it does rain don't worry. It’s still really fun. I would definitely recommend bringing rain boots and a rain coat even if it’s predicted to be dry. Bring lots of layers too. We went on early October, and we were all still cold.
Forest Ecology was next. In Forest Ecology we were in the outdoor the entire time. We started with a mini scavenger hunt. You got a card with something to find. Then you would share what you looked for, and what you found with one other partner. Then we went into an open field and played a game called camouflage. There was one person who was the predator, and then everyone else would run and hide. If the predator could see you from where he (or she) was, then you were out. Many people liked the game, including a fifth grader named Jasmine Rose, whose favorite class was forest ecology!There were tons of other fun games related to nature, but you’ll find out for yourself!

One of the most important part of the fifth graders trip is the food! Many people loved the food and you could get as many servings as you want! The cafeteria has an amazing overview of the lake and a beautiful landscape. We asked a 5th grader, Annika Pauline her favorite meal, “My favorite meal was breakfast because of the cinnamon rolls they were so good and they were homemade. I liked the cinnamon roll but not so much the frosting.”In the Lorado Taft, they have a thing called “Ort”. Ort is the leftovers that everyone has of their food. Everything you don’t eat is Ort which goes into the “bucket of doom”. Then they weigh the Ort and then they keep track of the amount of pounds of waste by the end of each meal. Hopefully the Ort goes down as each meal goes on. The goal of this is to teach kids to not waste their food. If you’re picky you shouldn’t worry. There are lots of different options, if you’re vegetarian, or if you’re allergic to anything there are also different foods for your needs. Everything is completely safe.

One of the most important parts is the night hike, unfortunately the 2017 fifth graders didn’t get to go because it was rainy, but if that ever happens, there will be alternatives, we had many fun activities at night to replace the hike. The hike would have been a night walk it would be a fun trip, listening to animals sounds, and just having fun outdoors!

Outdoor Ed is super fun. You should look forward to going in fifth grade. Have fun!