Children Ditch Classrooms for Outdoor Learning

July 01, 2010 | Jon Dalrymple

Every year, hundreds of children ditch classrooms in Upper Columbia Conference schools to get a different kind of education at Camp MiVoden. Their teachers are happy for them to attend this unique, week-long learning experience that the conference has provided for the last 12 years.

Outdoor School is more than just a fun week for youth. Sandy Mason, UCC Outdoor School coordinator, says, "Nature is God's second book, and you can't experience nature in a classroom. We teach the kids important skills that you learn best outdoors."

Outdoor School subjects include camp cooking, fire building, orienteering, outdoor survival, boating safety and a number of other outdoor skills.

"I love Outdoor School. It's awesome," says Amalia, a student from Moscow, Idaho, who has attended for three years in a row. "I just learned yesterday three blasts on a whistle or horn is a signal for help. That could be really important to know when you go camping or if you get stranded someplace."

In addition to skills training, there are many opportunities for students to develop their leadership and teamwork abilities. Whether they are completing a rope obstacle course or building a model rocket, students learn to work together and accomplish things they never thought possible.

"I've had kids come up to me after climbing the ropes course and say, 'I didn't know I could do that,'" says Mason.

"The most important part of Outdoor School is the spiritual aspect," says Mike Lambert, Stateline (Ore.) Church pastor. "Working with children in God's creation helps point them to Christ. Out of all the programs we have for children in the Upper Columbia Conference, Outdoor School is the best thing going."

"I get really excited about Outdoor School," says Kenny Campbell, Outdoor School pastor for the last six years. "My job is primarily to hold morning and evening worships. But I love spending time with them during the day too and getting to know them better each year. It is a thrill to see them grow up learning to love Jesus."

"I'd definitely rather be here than at school," says Amalia "because not only to do you get to meet people from other schools and make new friends, but I think being here gets you closer to God."