Posted by: hlumpkin | September 29, 2012

Conserve School Students Experience History while Canoeing in the Sylvania Wilderness

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The Sylvania Wilderness, which expands our outdoor classroom with another 18,000 acres of beautiful Northwoods lakes and forest, is absolutely gorgeous this time of year.  Fortunately Conserve School students (and 6 lucky staff members, including myself) had the opportunity to spend an entire afternoon paddling and portaging around a 5 lake loop in Sylvania on Thursday and Friday.  This was experiential learning at its best as students experienced firsthand the trials and victories that the Lewis and Clark expedition faced when portaging around the Great Falls of the Missouri River.

The trip took 4 hours.  Students felt the weight of that Lewis and Clark’s historical portage as they portaged 92 rods from Loon Lake into Deer Lake.  They experienced relief when they saw a glittering lake over a rise in the portage trail.  They delighted in a snack (chocolate chip scones!) and a break from the hard work as they read an excerpt from Lewis and Clark’s journal about the 4th of July celebration and feast.  This is a typical day in class at Conserve School.  We learn through experiences and hands-on activities.

During the journey students paused to read about John Krakauer’s risky climb up the Devil’s Thumb in Alaska.  After pondering this perilous journey students considered the role that risk plays in their own lives.  Students discussed several different types of risks that we take (physical, mental, social, and financial) and considered ways that risk can be managed.  They concluded that some risk can be a good thing, making life more exciting and providing opportunities for personal growth.  In fact each one of the students took a risk coming to Conserve School.  I hope that they continue to push themselves and grow during their time in this community.

I would like to thank Jeff Rennicke (photos 12-17) and Amy Nosal (photos 1-11) for contributing the photographs for this blog.

~ Graduate Fellow Heather Lumpkin

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