The Oregon Trail Experience
The Montana Conference recently hosted the annual Outdoor School for fifth and sixth grade students from across the state. The event is open to students attending conference schools and home schools, as well as Adventist students enrolled in public school.
The Oregon Trail was the theme for the event, which took place Oct. 21–24, 2019, at the Montana Conference office in Bozeman, Mont. As students filed in to get registered, they picked up a journal that would guide their simulated “journey" and posed for a pioneer-styled photo of themselves.
Following a spaghetti dinner, students were directed to open their journal where they would use a shopping guide to “purchase” items needed in their covered wagon. Each student was randomly assigned a pioneer-era name, an occupation, money allotment and size of family. Laughter filled the room as they compared their journey profiles. Some students commented they didn’t know how they would purchase the needed supplies with the amount of money they had. Others had fun trying out their peers’ new names.
Once the students’ preparations had been made, attention turned toward the worship hour, provided by a team from Trout Creek Adventist School. Maurita Crew, the school’s head teacher had prepared her older students to lead out in praise songs and a worship thought, which was a blessing to all in attendance.
The following days fell into a routine of new challenges that were faced on the Oregon Trail and choices that had to be made. Students quickly learned to evaluate each choice as the consequences for each affected their continued existence.
Pioneer survival skills were also taught during breakout sessions throughout the days’ schedule, as well. Students used their engineering skills in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) challenge to build a prototype storage trunk with specific requirements. Other skills learned were making butter, apple butter, biscuits, lentil stew, dehydrating vegetables, making ink, a compass and designing a leather bookmark.
The adults were amused as the students were delighted to learn about games played by pioneer children. Some of the games were marbles, cat’s cradle and counting coup, among others.
Each evening was filled with games provided by Mount Ellis Academy students and their coach, Brianna Jenkins.
At the end of the week, students visited the "Trading Post" to buy small items before heading to Bozeman Hot Springs and back to their homes.