Posted by: Stefan Anderson | May 22, 2015

CS10 Exploration Week Begins

Today Conserve School students headed out across the Northwoods for Exploration Week. During Exploration Week students spend six days (five nights) either on the trail along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, hiking the North Country Trail or canoeing through the Sylvania Wilderness Area, Cisco Chain and surrounding lakes. In this blog entry it is my pleasure to share with you a few photos from the four canoe groups as they left campus.

You can explore the Sylvania Wilderness virtually using the map above. Over the next few days students will be camping on many of these lakes including Loon Lake, Clark Lake, Crooked Lake and Mountain Lake. For reference The Conserve School campus buildings are located just north east of Big Donahue Lake.

Enjoy!

Stefan Anderson
Head of School

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | May 16, 2015

Giving back to Land O’ Lakes

This week Conserve School received a request from the Land O’ Lakes Public Library for help with spring cleaning of the library’s gardens and lawns. I invited students to volunteer and was pleased to note that more than the eight that were needed signed up. Eight of those who signed up were selected at random and they biked the seven miles from the Lowenwood Recreation Center at Conserve School to the Land O’ Lakes Library with me this morning.

Biking to Land O' Lakes

Biking into Land O’ Lakes

Before beginning our work at the library I treated the students to brunch at the Pine Cone Cafe, one of my favorite eating spots in Land O’ Lakes. Once we arrived at the library we were met by Bob Beedie, a Land O’ Lakes summer resident who has adopted the library grounds and who has done much of the planning and work that has made them so beautiful. Bob quickly put us to work dethatching the grass, spreading mulch, trimming rose bushes and raking the lawns. Not only will this make the library look good, it will prepare the lawn for a summer season of presentations for children.

Tom Pease performing July, 2013

Tom Pease performing July, 2013

After we finished our work at the library I treated the students to treats at the Dari-Maid Drive-In ice cream stand.

Please enjoy these photos from the day.

Sincerely,

Stefan Anderson
Head of School

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | May 10, 2015

Sleeping under the Stars

One of the things that I love about living at Conserve School in the Northwoods is the darkness that allows for the viewing of a brilliant night sky. One of my favorite ways to enjoy the night sky is to sleep outside on a tarp without a tent so that I can see the stars and listen to the music of the woods.

Last Saturday night I shared this experience with the students of CS 10 by organizing a night of sleeping under the stars on the Conserve School sledding hill. Staff members Robert Eady and Annie Bussiere help organize and chaperone this event. The sky was clear and the occasional shooting star added excitement. Students fell asleep to the sounds of spring peeper frogs and the wind whistling through the trees. In the morning a wide variety of birds formed a chorus to welcome the sun with woodpeckers providing the percussion and a pair of low flying sandhill cranes contributing their distinctive call expectantly.

Please enjoy these pictures taken in the morning. Despite temperatures dipping to the low 30’s a good time was had by all.

Sincerely,

Stefan Anderson
Head of School

Posted by: Phil DeLong | May 8, 2015

Community Service Day

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One of Conserve School’s school-wide learning goals states that, after completing a semester at Conserve School, a student “demonstrates a commitment and responsibility to community, and is inspired to value and take part in service to others.” While students can take advantage of community service opportunities almost any weekend, we set aside one day each semester for all students and staff to give back to our local communities. This past Wednesday, students and staff fanned out across the northwoods, to give an entire day of their time to eight different organizations. Activities included prepping garden beds for Northland Pines Farm-to-School Garden and Land O’ Lakes community garden, eradicating invasive species on local Nature Conservancy lands, cleaning campsites in the Sylvania Wilderness, cleaning the right-of-way along Conserve School’s “Adopt a Highway” section of U.S. Hwy 45, helping with various tasks at a local fish hatchery, helping at the Land O’ Lakes library and ice rink, and assisting the staff at an Ottawa National Forest nursery. We are grateful to our community partners for the important role that they play in our local communities, and happy to offer our time to help them meet their goals.

Phil DeLong
Director of Enrollment and Student Support

Posted by: csdailyblog | May 4, 2015

Going Solo CS10

This past Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, CS10 students took part in one of the highlights of the Conserve School semester experience, the solo camp-out.

15-04-29 Solo Map PointFor solos, students are broken up into groups of about eight students, each of which is assigned two or more staff members and an area of campus with several individual campsites spread out within it as well as one larger “base camp” campsite. The adults stay at the base camp and check on the solo-ists periodically, using a messaging system to make sure that students are okay without interrupting their solos. If a student doesn’t leave the designated message at the appointed time and place, the staff member investigates further. (The usual reason for a student failing to leave an “all is well” signal is that they have fallen asleep.)

The first night all students camp out on their own. On the second night, students can choose to have a second overnight on their own or to join others at their base camp for dinner, a campfire with some debriefing activities. For the second night some students move their tents to the group site, while most return to their original solo site.

A big thank you to Cathy Palmer, our Director of Outdoor Programs, for another successful solo camping experience.

Posted by: Phil DeLong | May 2, 2015

Weekend Camping

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Taking advantage of warming temperatures and ice-off on campus lakes, history teacher Michael Salat recently led a one night camping trip on Black Oak Lake. Student Julia reflected on the experience in a recent e-portfolio entry:

“We left on Saturday morning and it was absolutely beautiful outside, even though we all knew the water was freezing, I think every one of us was dying to just jump into the cool clear lake. We only had one portage, so the way out to our campsite was easy breezy, and the whole thing took probably only two hours. One really cool part about the way out is that near our destination, there was still some ice on the lake. The sound of the water rushing under it was amazing, like a thousand little waterfalls. We paddled over to where the ice was thin and continued on, breaking up some mini ice sheets. The whole lake was colder over here, and I immediately thought of the book we read in History, Endurance, where Shackleton and his team had many difficulties with ice throughout their expedition; we had it a bit easier, but still it felt adventurous.

“We arrived at camp and we immediately started setting up our temporary living space. We set up tents, some people strung up their hammocks, and people got the kitchen together, while others collected sticks or water. Even though it might seem like these are just chores, I really enjoyed this part of camping because we all worked together, and even though many of us were doing different things, it seemed like we were all on the same page. After every thing was set, we decided to get back out on the lake. Gaby and I went out together (Ava was my partner before) and it took us a while to get used to each other’s rhythm, but once we did, we were cruisin’. We just paddled around, soaked up the sun, and sang songs until we got cold and returned to the campsite. We noticed one amazing thing- that more than half the ice that was so solid earlier in the day had already melted! Spring was definitely here.

“The rest of the night consisted of spaghetti for dinner, brownies for desert, a night paddle, and stories around the campfire. Something I really value is being able to have intelligent and interesting conversations with people, and with this group, they just kept going. I noticed that about almost everyone here at Conserve; everyone is willing to talk to you, and they always have something intriguing to talk about. At then very end of the night Benny T. said that he thought we should all go around the campfire and say one nice thing about each person. A lot of people thought this would take too long, but eventually everyone got on board. I really liked this part because you could tell that it was making people happy and that made me happy. Having ten people saying nice things about you definitely makes you feel good, and saying a nice thing to ten other people, and watching them bashfully smile, has the same effect. We all went to bed sleepy and content.

“I am really glad that I was able to participate in this activity because I think that it gave me a fresh idea in my head of the whole gist of camping. Before then, it was a while since the last time I went into the wilderness overnight. This trip also gave me an idea of how sometimes, things just don’t go as planned and how you just have to look for new routes to get to your goal. This experience left me feeling a lot more confident about being alone in the woods for solos.”

Phil DeLong
Director of Enrollment and Student Support

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | April 26, 2015

2015 Sylvania Wilderness Campsite Cleanup

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2015 Sylvania Campsite Cleanup

On Saturday I headed out with four students and my friendly dog Copper to do community service work in the Sylvania Wilderness Area. Our mission was to check in on seven campsites on Loon Lake and two campsites on East Bear Lake and make sure that they were in good condition for the upcoming summer camping season.

Paths to campsite cleanup sites

Paths to campsite cleanup sites

We began our cleanup work at 10 o’clock in the morning by driving along the edge of the Sylvania Wilderness and then hiking in to the campsites on East Bear Lake. On our return we stopped in to the Pine Cone Cafe in Land O’ Lakes for lunch before driving to the canoe landing at Conserve School on Big Bateau Lake.  We canoed across Big Bateau Lake, portaged to Florence Lake, traversed Florence Lake, portaged to Loon Lake, and then paddled to our first campsite. Overall we hiked, paddled and portaged nine miles from start to finish.

At each campsite there were a number of chores to do. We cleaned out the old ashes from the fire rings and spread them out over a large area away from the campsite. We raked the areas around the camp fire rings for safety. We raked the paths around the campsite. We checked on the latrines to see if they needed any maintenance. Most importantly, we checked for any safety hazards at the campsites such as broken trees that were snagged in other trees that might fall on a tent. These are often called “widow makers”.

Conserve School students and staff develop a special fondness for the Sylvania Wilderness Area so it feels especially good to be able to give back and support it so that others can experience the joys of this unique wilderness area. This activity was done as part of the spring Sylvania campsite survey which is organized by the Land O’ Lakes Fish and Game Club in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service.

Sincerely,

Stefan Anderson
Head of School

Pictures from our day working the in the Sylvania Wilderness Area

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | April 17, 2015

Leadership on the Lake

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This morning I was invited by students in the Leadership class to take pictures while the students participated in a leadership challenge. The topic for the day was problem solving and the lesson was designed and taught by two of the students. The class was divided into two teams. Three students on each team were given special roles with one being a chicken, one a fox, and one representing a bundle of grain. Each team was also given a rowboat to use. Their mission was to be the first team to successfully get their chicken, fox and grain to the other side of the lake. However, they could only have one of those three things in the boat at any one time, and they couldn’t have the chicken and grain or the fox and chicken together by themselves on either side of the lake. After the teams formulated their plans the race was on.

After each team had successfully completed the challenge the class gathered in four rowboats. They read a short piece on teamwork and then held a discussion. It looked like they were having fun and learning some useful lessons.

Regards,

Stefan Anderson
Head of School

Pictures from today’s class

Posted by: Phil DeLong | March 27, 2015

Dog Days

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Yesterday morning, Jeff Rennicke’s Nature Photography elective was pleased to be joined by Hannah Stonehouse Hudson, a professional photographer specializing in subjects of the canine persuasion. Stonehouse Hudson helped the students think about the particular challenges of photographing animals, which have the habit of moving and being unpredictable. After some time in the classroom, the students were given the opportunity to shoot photos of some of the campus dogs, who were enjoying the fresh snow in the Commons. We “hounded” the students to share some of their photos, and we invite you to enjoy a sampling of their work from this class activity.

Phil DeLong
Director of Enrollment and Student Support

Posted by: Phil DeLong | March 5, 2015

Winter Waterfall Trip

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From the teacher webpage of Jeff Rennicke, English teacher (all photos courtesy of Jeff):

The study and experience of nature does not stop at the classroom door at Conserve, or even at the end of the school day or week. Every encounter with the natural world gives students an opportunity to learn about themselves and about the world around them. [On a recent weekend], I took a group of students to Bond Falls on a frigid, windy Saturday adventure. The falls roared. The mist froze to our faces. The sub-zero temperatures chilled our bones and we caught sight of a winter beauty almost frozen in time. When we could no longer feel our fingers, we hiked back to the van for hot chocolate, homemade scones, orange slices, warmth and a poem (I am an English teacher after all). Here is the poem I recited to them after a visit to the waterfalls that flows into Lake Superior:

THE SINGING

 

SOMETIMES, I HEAR SINGING.

EARLY IN THE MORNING

WHEN THE MIST LIFTS AND WISPS ITS WAY

ACROSS THE BLUE-BLACK BACK OF THE WATER

 

OR LATE

WHEN THE LAKE ROLLS AND MOANS

BENEATH ITS STAR-STREWN BLANKETS

THIS LAKE HAS A VOICE.

 

IT’S IN THE WHISTLE OF AUTUMN WINGS ACROSS THE WATER

LOW AND SOFT AND GONE.

 

IT’S IN THE SUN-KISSED LIGHT OF SPRING

MELTING A WINTER’S ICE

DROP, BY DROP, BY DROP.

 

IT’S IN THE SUMMER WIND

STRUMMING THE WAVES

THE SLOW, REPEATING VERSE OF THE SURF.

 

THIS LAKE HAS A VOICE.

 

I HEARD IT MOST CLEARLY ONCE

CAMPED DEEP IN THE THROAT OF A CANYON

THAT BELLOWED ITS RIVER

STRAIGHT INTO THE LAKE

IN ONE SWIFT LEAP … SSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

 

IT’S ONLY THE SOUND OF THE WATERFALLS

THEY TOLD ME.

 

OF COURSE IT IS,

I SAID

 

AND DIDN’T BELIEVE THEM.

 

THERE IS NO NEED TO BELIEVE ONLY THE OBVIOUS

TO HEAR

ONLY THE SOUND OF WATER

WHERE THERE ARE

VOICES

SOFTLY SINGING

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