The Community Adventure Program (CAP) students at STRIVE Prep – Westwood were so excited about their upcoming overnight camping trip that they just couldn’t wait to spend a day outdoors! Cottonwood was happy to accommodate this request by scheduling a day trip at a local park. On April 9th, four students, two instructors, and a STRIVE teacher spent six fun-filled hours in Garfield Lake Park.
We began by having a scavenger hunt to really be able to explore the beautiful park. Students found bugs, flowers, and birds; and learned about trees and clouds. We used these similarities to compare and contrast city parks with being in the backcountry. This allowed us to appreciate the wilderness while not having to travel very far, and to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of modifying the natural environment.
We then got a practical lesson in a backcountry necessity—throwing bear bags! To protect the natural ecosystem, it is important to not allow your food to be eaten by any wild animals. We had a wild time trying to get the rope over a branch! After attempting some different strategies, the bag was high enough, and we learned how to secure the rope around the trunk without damaging the bark.
After lunch the kids were introduced to first aid; covering the basics of what to do if you come upon a person unconscious or in a trauma or medical situation. They learned how to assess and address various situations, taking turns being the patient.
The next activity is always a big hit: fire-building! Students learned to build miniature teepee and log cabin fires to get the feel for how to assemble them. Then they had to chance to actually light a fire with cottonballs, petroleum jelly, flint and steel. They all had one opportunity to try it and learned a new way to get a fire going!
We wrapped up the day with a talk about Leave No Trace, incorporating what we had done throughout the day into the lesson. We broke into groups to act out certain ethics for each other, which provided laughs for everyone! On the way back to school, we did a mini-service project by picking up micro-trash along our path. The students were appalled about how much litter there was laying around, and it really sparked in them a desire to keep a clean and beautiful land for future patrons to enjoy! We collected a gallon’s worth of gum wrappers, bottle caps, can tabs, and cigarette butts from just one small section of the park.
As we prepared to go back out into the ‘real world,’ we talked about what we learned throughout the day as well as things we could take back home to share with our friends and family. We all can’t wait for the overnight trip!!!
Written by: STRIVE Westwood CAP Instructor, Lauren Savelle