The Outdoor Education Program Helps Students Develop Multiple Outdoor Skills Throughout Their Time at TCS

(photos from 2019-20 school year)

By Julia Stewart, Sixth Grade Teacher and Outdoor Education  Coordinator

The TCS Outdoor Education program has taken our students to the mountains, beaches, swamps, piney woods and hilly piedmont since 1978! 

During its first 40 years, the 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. 

Each fall and spring, we 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. Grades 3-8 go on overnight, grade-level trips as a part of our 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. 

Last year, eighth-grade students traveled to St. Simons Island 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 spent a day touring Sapelo and Butler Islands, exploring Cannon’s Point Preserve, participating in a ropes course, and spending an afternoon kayaking. 

A fellow camper at Black Rock State Park (Datana ministra)