Fifth graders are in for a real treat, because this is the year they get to do Outdoor Ed.
If your kids aren't yet up to fifth grade, you might have heard that phrase and wondered what it means. And if your kids have been through our Outdoor Education program, you know just how special it is.
Each spring, fifth graders in LVUSD get to spend 5 days and 4 nights at King Gillette Ranch in one of the most beautiful spots in the Santa Monica Mountains. They sleep in a dormitory-style building, eat meals together, and spend their days outdoors. They hike the trails, learn about local flora and fauna, participate in special activities that celebrate the Chumash tribe who originally lived in this area hundreds of years ago.
One of the best parts of Outdoor Ed is that during this week, students must leave their electronics behind and immerse themselves in the experience. With plenty of responsible chaperones providing security and leadership, the students also get a taste of independence. While they are still held to high standards of behavior and accountablity, Outdoor Ed is a parent-free week.
Starting in February, the entire fifth grade at each elementary school in LVUSD spends a week at Outdoor Ed. Rangers from the Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority (MRCA) lead standards-based lessons and leadership and team-building activities. These emphasize the ecosystem, dynamic local history, and imperiled watersheds. MRCA relates science concepts to locally important issues and resources and helps students make a lasting connection with nature.
In addition, high school students in LVUSD are invited to apply to be counselors for the Outdoor Ed experience. Many fifth graders who go through Outdoor Ed cite the high school counselors as being a very important part of making their week enjoyable and meaningful. Kids come back from their week at King Gillette Ranch exhausted and happy, and they often surprise their parents with new skills they picked up, or foods they wouldn't eat before, while they were gone.
Steve Scifres is principal of Bay Laurel Elementary School in Calabasas and director of the Outdoor Education program for the district. "The Outdoor Ed program is an outdoor classroom experience designed to provide fifth graders with an opportunity to develop attitudes and skills that will enable them to have a profound appreciation for ecology and their environment," he says.
Share photos or notes from your child's Outdoor Ed experience with us via social media, and tag #lvusd!