(MVPS sophomores at Camp Glisson)
I spent the last 2 days on a school retreat with all of the 10th grade at MVPS, and it was a ton of fun! There are some experiences that you have at camp that you just don’t get in a classroom.
We did rock climbing, zip lining, an alpine tower, a low ropes challenge course, and many other games. In these activities we were having to physically support each other to complete exercises and do them safely. The activities tested our problem solving, creative thinking, collaboration, communication, and ethical decision making skills. We didn’t do a ton of innovating, but I find innovation to be the next step. First you need experience in order to find problems, then you can put all of those other skills together to create something new to help people with these problems. The point is, that while on this retreat, we practiced practically all of the mindsets that our school wants us to have. But from what it looked like, there were a lot more people enjoying themselves, and I would say we learned some things specifically about each other, that we could never learn at a 2.0 school.
As a grade, I think we all really bonded well at this years retreat. I pointed out while leaving that everything actually ran really smoothly which doesn’t always happen when you take an entire grade and make them live together for a night. While going through these exercises you were able to see who the natural leaders are, and also how people lead differently. I tended to be one of the leaders for my group, so on one event, I and 2 others, were told that we couldn’t talk so that other people would have to step up and lead. When I was done with this event, I was allowed to talk, but still couldn’t help talk to the team because not everyone was done, so I was talking with one of the teachers instead. He was the one that pointed out the different leading styles he was noticing. I would typically be an outspoken person that tried to plan things out and make sure everyone knew the plan to get things done efficiently. Then one girl in our group would also do a lot of leading, lead more by just being the person in front and setting an example for what others should do, but she wouldn’t always be as outspoken with her own ideas. In a classroom you wouldn’t usually get to observe these things.
Plus other than just team building by doing physical activities, we also had a lot of good time just talking with each other. Socializing is a part of school that is almost never encouraged, but kids really need free time every now and then to just hangout and get to know the people they work with. At Nerd Camp I always joke about how they made us participate in social activities and we weren’t allowed to continue our math work at them, but the truth is, I’m glad they made us stop working. I don’t know many times at school where we are told to stop doing school work. For the retreat our teachers didn’t give us homework because they wanted us to not feel pressured to get it done and to be fully participant at camp. What if there was a rule where you could never give “homework” on the weekends, but in stead students were greatly encouraged to use the weekends to just explore and make connections?
I think the “School 3.0” that we talk about should have some aspects of camp in it as well. What if schools had rock walls and zip lines and challenge courses that tested your skills? What if school had more built in social time at school, and time to stop working and just be present and available? I think the biggest difference between school 3.0 and camp would just be that school 3.0 goes to the next level and adds in the innovation mindset. At camp the team building and practicing of the mindsets came naturally, and isn’t that the real goal of school; to inspire students so that they can practice and grow in their problem solving, creative thinking, collaboration, communication, ethical decision making, and innovation skills naturally?