Inspiring Life-long Learning for 25 Years
October 24-26, Camp Edwards, East Troy, WI
One of the greatest aspects of Waldorf education is starting from the whole and going into the parts. As an example, Rudolf Steiner suggested that if we imagine a clock or a watch, it makes sense that a child would be able to take it apart, learning from the process how the parts relate to each other and fit and work together, and therefore be able to put it back together again. But the opposite, beginning with many parts and pieces of a watch already disassembled and splayed out on a table, would almost never inspire a child to build a watch. Waldorf curriculum is designed in this fashion, and the class trips reflect this, as well. Students begin with an inward focus, with the thought of themselves, and reflect this out into the world. The class trips begin in the third grade when the students go to a local farm for a few days to experience the idea of living on the earth and what that entails, through the work of the farmer. In the fourth grade, the students endeavor the process of mapping their local area. They begin with their own space and move out into the world around them, learning as they go about the world, about history, about where they fit into the big puzzle. Part of this is learning about the indigenous people that preceded them; quite often class trips in the fourth grade will involve Native American cultures, as did Mrs. Byrne's class this year on their recent trip to Camp Edwards in East Troy, Wisconsin, a rustic, traditional YMCA camp, that has been in operation since 1929, and is located on over 100 acres of beautiful prairies and woods on the banks of Lake Beulah.
The students were thrilled to share their experiences and tell stories of their field trip. Each and every one of them seemed truly exuberant about their time at Camp Edwards. The boys stayed in "Waukon" cabin, and the girls stayed in a yurt. Through many, varied classes, games and activities, with the Great Outdoors as their classroom, they learned a tremendous amount about nature (pines, prairies, birds, wolves), history (Native American culture, early pioneers, settlers, even pirates!), science (sensory activities, how the human eye sees at night) and wilderness survival (how to build a shelter, how to make and safely put out a fire). They enjoyed a campfire, made s'mores, learned and sang songs, and played hard—rugby, gaga ball, "camouflage", "alpha wolf", 50 foot tube slides, canoeing. They even got to see the Northern Lights! On their final morning, they enjoyed the low ropes course and cooperative games, where individual persistence and coordination were encouraged through group trust and support. At the end of the trip, they were sad to say goodbye to Mike, Alley, Tara, Sam the cook, Paul, Tim and of course the Spiderman ice cream bars! The trip was fun and special for everyone.
Many heartfelt thanks to Jen Nichols and Nilo De Castro for going along as Mrs. Byrne's helpers!
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