Instead of reading my ramblings, take a look at this awesome article from psychologist and author Dan Siegel about adolescence and the plane of development the A1 community is on:
What an adventure Wolf Ridge was. From learning about the weather, cross country skiing, doing the high ropes course, and ending up hip-deep in snow, not only was the trip physically challenging but intellectually engaging as we spent time in nature and learned about how the earth works!
Monday afternoon we jumped right into learning about the weather and used tools to predict and assess the weather. Monday evening we did the challenging rock climbing wall - where everyone climbed and some even did the most difficult climb and were the 9th person to finish it. To see fears turn into satisfaction after the climbing was amazing and brought tears to my eyes and the adolescents cheered each other on.
Tuesday morning we cross country skiied for three hours. To be honest it was frustrating - the snow had melted and then refroze, making the trails very slippery. Mr. Goodwin and myself fell over 20 times. The adolescents were frustrated too at times, but fell together in groups, encouraging, slowing down for the other, and literally helping each other get up after they took a spill (or I took a spill!) One student in particular was a verbal encourager and champion for his classmates and again brought TEARS to my eyes.
Tuesday afternoon we learned about renewable energy and worked with windmills and tried to create a solar heater to heat water. The adolescents enjoyed learning about ways to reduce our use of non-renewable energy. Tuesday evening we did the high ropes course. This was the activity I think most were excited and most were nervous for (including me!). The ropes were 50 feet above the ground and had different sections of varying difficulty. Some students made it just across the rope bridge, others made it through three times, even going backwards and blindfolded! I had to go first because I was the adult to assist at the last station (zipline) and the students ran beneath me encouraging me, "Yeah, Mrs. Goodwin!" Their encouragement of others and their ability to take risks was inspiring and truly beautiful, no matter how far across the course they got.
On Wednesday morning we had a three hour course on Winter Survival - we made shelters in the trees, gathered our own firewood, and made hot cocoa over our fires! The adolescents broke into groups of two and competed to have the best fire and the most creative shelters with tarps in the trees.
Filled in between these activities was free time of fellowship, games, and loving teasing and joking around. From teasing about the smell from the boys' cabin to conversations at meals, the community and sense of togetherness grew exponentially at Wolf Ridge and I can attest that we brought it back to the classroom as well.