Camping, Comfort Zones, & S'mores

By Terry Maguire, 6th grade teacher

This week the 6th grade went on a camping trip to Camp Dark Waters. This annual 6th grade rite of passage is an opportunity for students to expand their comfort zones, both physical and emotional, while experiencing the power of being in a supportive community.

We began our adventure huddled inside the cafeteria while rain poured down around us. As we finished lunch, the skies cleared, and we headed for the trees! Here students took turns climbing rope ladders up into tall trees and scaled wires 20 feet above the ground. We also pulled each other up on a rope harness to let us swing high above the creek.

The theme of these activities was “one more step.” Everyone’s comfort zones are different, and when challenged to go just outside where we feel comfortable, we ask ourselves if we can go “one more step.” The cheering of classmates helped many of us take that extra step and feel proud for accomplishing something that we didn’t think we could.

After dinner (the first of the three meals students prepared, served, and cleaned up after), we headed out to the campfire, where we reflected on how others see us and the parts of ourselves that we keep private. For our community to be strong, we must build trust and be accepting of each other’s unique selves. Students were encouraged to share parts of themselves to trusting friends, teacher, and mentors if and when they feel safe to do so. Oh, and then we ate s’mores!

Tuesday morning was a chance for us to try archery and fishing, play some more, and, yes, do a little reflecting on our needs at humans and how we can react when they are not met.

We ended our trip with a bead ceremony ,where students, one-by-one, presented beads to each other recognizing how we expanded our comfort zones.

It was a trip we will not soon forget.