(photos from 2019-20 school year)
By Julia Stewart, Sixth Grade Teacher and Outdoor Education Coordinator
Where has TCS Outdoor Education gone? For two years, COVID has limited our outdoor activities to parks and playgrounds close to our campus. We’ve gotten outside, but not to the mountains, beaches, swamps, piney woods and hilly piedmont that characterized our program for 44 years.
During its first 40 years, the TCS Outdoor Education program provided an opportunity for third through sixth graders to experience Georgia’s diverse physiographic regions while developing outdoor skills including hiking in various terrains, flatwater paddling and whitewater paddling. Sleeping in tents, choosing a tent site, using outhouses, cooking over camp stoves, making fires and navigating with a compass are additional skills developed through multiple experiences of camping in a variety of environments.
With the addition of the Middle Grades program in 2017, the outdoor program also expanded with a backpacking trip to the mountains of North Carolina, adding a new level of challenge for our older students.
This spring, we will dust off our tents, reflect on our years of camping experience and strike out on new adventures with teachers and students into the woods of North Georgia. During April and May, grades 4 – 7 will camp at Black Rock State Park on overnight, grade-level trips as we transition back to our more robust outdoor education programming.
TCS has used the pioneer campground, Tsatu-gi (the highest state park in Georgia), for over 20 years as our base camp for many different adventures. This year, our focus will be on developing camping skills and hiking along the Eastern Continental Divide that follows a ridgeline trail through the park.
Third grade will travel to Dauset Trails for a full day of hiking, practicing camping skills and extending their classroom learning into the outdoors.
Eighth-grade students will travel to St. Simons Island in May to spend the week weaving several thousand years of local history into their year-long class theme of “We the People” for a capstone experience that closely aligns with many of the eighth grade curricular goals. Students will spend a day touring Sapelo and Butler Islands, explore Cannon’s Point Preserve, participate in a ropes course, and spend an afternoon kayaking.
A fellow camper at Black Rock State Park (Datana ministra)