Descriptions of Key Activities
Field studies are lessons in awareness, nature connection, and natural sciences that make up our Outdoor School program’s focused learning portion, covering topics like plants, animals, water, and soil. The theme of the curriculum is “we are all connected through the land.” Field study themes include: learning from the land, land as home, land in process, and caring for the land. Students will hear and share stories, do sit spots, develop sensory awareness outdoors, make naturalist+scientific observations, journal plants, track animals, study decomposition and disturbances, explore how water shapes the land, profile species, and map types of land management.
The field study curriculum combines field science methods from the BEETLES project and Coyote Mentoring. We get to know the land using nature-centered, student-centered approaches to learning, by engaging students in inquiry and following curiosity rather than fact sharing or finding. We interweave social emotional learning into our lessons and incorporate diverse perspectives. This curriculum is guided by Indigenous research and frameworks for learning. Field Study is led by Field Instructors with support from Coyote Leaders and classroom teachers. School teachers help engage students in the curriculum, accompany students to the restroom, and work with Field Instructors to address student needs.
Wilderness skills* allow students to build confidence and feel at home outdoors. Some wilderness skills like tracking, plant identification, and journaling are incorporated in field studies and interest groups already, so this time will be spent practicing more advanced survival-focused skills from options (dependent on schools and Outdoor School site) like: archery, shelter building, navigation, friction fire, and ethnobotany. All students will complete the same four wilderness skills by the end of Outdoor School. Only offered during five-day programs.
Free time* is an opportunity for students to spend time as they choose either during an unstructured recess outside or in their cabins. Students will have the opportunity to play and talk with their peers with staff keeping a watchful eye nearby. Only offered during five-day programs.
Interest groups offer students a chance to choose from a variety of activities facilitated by classroom teachers and Outdoor School staff, including interactive learning games, nature exploration, team building, meditative nature experiences, wildcraft, and more. Interest groups are led by Program Guides, and teachers can also choose to lead an interest group at Outdoor School. Since students choose interest groups, they include a mix of students from different classes and/or schools.
Class meeting time gives students and teachers one hour together without Outdoor School staff. During class meetings, our staff have meetings and prepare for activities. Teachers direct class meeting and choose how to best use this time. Some teachers check-in with their students, connect Field Study curriculum to classroom curriculum, or play games. Teachers can also pass out letters from home during this time and give students time to write back to their parents.
Contributions are assignments completed by each cabin group to encourage everyone to contribute to the Outdoor School community. Contributions include setting dining tables, prepping campfire (with supervision), preparing skits, practicing songs, cleaning bathrooms, and sharing gratitude. Coyote Leaders lead contributions with help from Program Guides.
Gratitude ceremony is led by cabin groups who share why they are thankful with the whole Outdoor School community. To prepare for the ceremony beforehand, students discuss what they are grateful for at Outdoor School and plan their unique ceremony; they can create art, a song, or skit to display gratitude. Alternatively, each student in the cabin can share one reason they are thankful. Coyote Leaders facilitate gratitude ceremony with help from Program Guides.
Cabin time gives students an opportunity to spend time in their cabin groups engaging in social activities and/or self care. During cabin time, they can socialize with peers, practice songs and skits for campfire, decompress and reflect on their day, and attend to their hygiene needs. Coyote Leaders supervise cabin time with help from Program Guides.
Campfire is the pinnacle community building experience at Outdoor School. During this time, students, teachers, and ODS staff sing, tell stories, perform, and socialize around the campfire. In their cabin groups, each student will participate in one song or skit at one of the campfires. Program Guides lead campfire with help from everyone in the Coyote Outdoor School community.
Night programs* are alternative programs in lieu of our traditional campfire, and depending on weather, may include stargazing and constellation mapping, night hikes, blindfolded walks, and more. Even on nights when we do not host a traditional campfire program, we will try to have at least a portion of the night spent around the fire. Only offered during five-day programs.
*Wilderness skill rotations, free time, and night programs are only offered during five-day/four-night programs.