Education Joins Sunset Lake Camp for Outdoor School

November 15, 2017 | Katie Fellows

Washington Conference Office of Education joined with Sunset Lake Camp in Wilkeson, Wash., to provide students with a different learning environment early October.

“[Outdoor School] is great for the kids and gets them out of the classroom,” says Leanna Decker, Poulsbo (Wash.) Adventist School teacher. “I wish we could do all education outdoors. Kids love it.”

Fun and educational activities helped students grow in different aspects of their lives, whether it was being patient about catching a fish or learning to work together during team-building activities.

“It’s neat to see the interaction between teachers and students,” says Sheila Larsen, a parent from Poulsbo. “I think it’s awesome. It will be neat to see what they accomplish together.”

Zip lining and team building, fishing, salmon and native plants, weather and rain cycles, and horseback rides were all part of the fun activities that students got to experience again or for the first time.

Ella, a student at Northwest Christian School in Puyallup, Wash., thinks it’s cool and likes it much better than a classroom.

“For the first time … in awhile for a conferencewide outdoor school, there was a great turn out,” says Becky Meharry, Washington Conference associate education superintendent. “We had a great group of kids from 11 of our schools. The kids were very enthusiastic and the teachers greatly appreciated the experience.”

Fishing was one activity the schools enjoyed during their stay at Sunset Lake Camp. Craig Mattson, Washington Conference vice president for education, noticed a young fifth-grade student who had been looking forward to fishing all week and telling everyone fishing was in his blood. But he had never caught a fish.

“I tried hard to help him catch a fish, but to no avail. The class ended, and he had not caught his fish,” Mattson says.

During the last few hours, this young student’s school stayed behind to help clean up. “I noticed this and pulled him and a few other boys back over to the lake to make one final attempt at catching a fish,” Mattson says. “After about 15 minutes, he had a fish on the hook and a huge smile on his face. It was a really great moment to be a teacher.”

The education department at Washington Conference plans on making Outdoor School an annual event.