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Camp Wondervu was Wonderful: STRIVE Excel Goes Camping at Camp Wondervu!

STRIVE ExcelOctober 26th, 2013 was not an average Saturday morning for Strive Preparatory Schools’ Excel Campus ninth graders enrolled in the Outdoor Education Enrichment with Cottonwood Institute’s mini-CAP. No sleeping in, no television, and no morning menudo. This morning was different. It was the beginning of their camping adventure. After five weeks of intense preparation for this one weekend in the wilderness, the time had finally come. Students anxiously anticipated what the weekend would have in store. Predictions for the weekend included everything from being eaten by bears to being whisked away by La Llorona. Obviously, neither of these things happened.

After a scenic drive through the mountains, students arrived at their new home for the weekend at Camp Wondervu. Upon arrival, preparations included: distributing gear, setting up tents, learning the important, albeit strange procedure for using the makeshift restroom (“I really need to have a conversation with Ms. Peabody!”), and being reminded that drinking water would be an absolute necessity for the next couple days.

Next, students began playing games. They were reluctant at first by the prospect of participating in trust games with people they barely knew. However, “Big Booty” proved to be an hysterical icebreaker! As appetites grew stronger, the Cottonwood Instructors, Kristin and  Sandy, asked them to break for a very healthy and delicious lunch. A spread of whole grain breads, cheese, vegetables, and hummus was presented to the students and they dug in ravenously. Who knew Big Booty could make someone so hungry?IMG_0009

As night approached, students were instructed to start a campfire. Needless to say, many obstacles were faced. Here’s the catch: students were given three matches, and were asked to use their surroundings and experiment with various wilderness techniques to create a fire. After this goal was accomplished, Kristin and Sandy made a dinner the students were not used to: Pizza Rice. Pizza Rice is basically rice substituted for the dough in a normal pizza. They ate the delicious Pizza Rice around the fire, and were asked to find sticks long enough to roast marshmallows. When the sticks were found and marshmallows were roasted, they played Big Booty (again!), sang songs, and told ghost stories. Students and instructors connected through the fire and words. As a way to reflect upon their day, the students shared their “peaks” and “valleys” of the trip so far. After s’mores were eaten, they decided to play another game called Drum Stalk. Students walked into the darkness away from the fire,  put on bandanas to cover their eyes, and soon began carefully “fox-walking” their way back to the fire using the eerie sound of a slow beating drum. Student were surprised by the senses awakened while playing Drum Stalk.

WondervuSince there was a lake at the campsite and the group energy was high, students and instructors turned on their night vision and took a night walk around the lake without headlamps! Ms. Mastrangelo, the students’ teacher, decided that it would be funny to hide in the trees and scare the students. Screams interrupted conversations every time she jumped out, but it was still so much fun! After the late night walk around the lake, students put out the fire and hit the hay.

In the morning, students and instructors made a hearty breakfast of tea and oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts. Students ate, then played more games focusing on play, sensory awareness, teamwork, leadership, and trust.  The crew also worked hard on a service project to give back to Camp Wondervu by cleaning up an old paintball field. The service project proved to be exhausting yet fun; students carried large pieces of plywood with nails and dug barbed wire from the earth. Soon enough, it was time for everyone to prepare to re-enter society and continue their lives. Although tents and gear were packed away, memories of the adventures live on.

Written by students of Mini-CAP at STRIVE Excel

Stay tuned for updates on the composting project the students are completing as their action component of mini-CAP. 

Check out more pictures of their adventures here: https://striveprep.shutterfly.com/striveexcel


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