Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center: Three days with cold, wet, 5th graders

About 130 fifth grade students, plus staff and a few sixth graders got back last night from 3 cold, mostly rainy days in the north woods of Minnesota. We had a great time, even though the weather was less than ideal for being outdoors.

My 5th graders getting ready to canoe on a cold, windy evening.

Wolf Ridge is a great place to take school groups. It’s in a beautiful setting, near Lake Superior, and the activities are excellent. I had been there once before, with a group of teachers, but never with kids. It was fun to see our Andersen students, most of whom have never been in these kind of surroundings, have such a great time, learn so much, and treat each other so well.

Many activities, such as this Ojibwe Heritage class, begin with an indoor session . . . .


. . . . and then continue outdoors. Here, students are making fire.

Teachers and students alike are invited to push themselves out of their comfort zone from time to time, but no one is forced to do anything they don’t want to do. I was so proud of my kids. They braved some brutal weather with hardly a complaint. They took on challenges that would scare most adults.

I know the impact this kind of a trip can have on young people. My daughters Emily and Lauren went up to Wolf Ridge a few times when they attended Field School in the ’90s and both still sings its praises. They each have lasting memories of those visits.

The photo below shows a couple of my girls on the climbing wall. Evelyn (near the top, in blue) was particularly impressive. She scaled the wall all the way to the top in each of the six areas — no one else came close to accomplishing this.

Neither of these girls had ever tried this before. It was quite an experience to watch them overcome their fears.

I wish every kid could go to a place like Wolf Ridge. Most of our students never get to get out of the city. Most of them have never been in any kind of wilderness area, let alone being taught about all the plants, animals and geology around them. Many of them had never been away from home overnight before. This trip was so good for so many reasons. I hope we can do it again next year. We’ll need a lot of financial help to pull it off, but we’re already working on that.

The 5th grade team of teachers, Special Ed. assistants and other staff all did an amazing job of putting this together. I also want to thank the wonderful teachers at Wolf Ridge. They are top notch and did a great job with our kids.

I loved getting to know my kids even better in this very personal way. I hope we gave them some great memories to carry with them. It was also wonderful to spend time with the other adults. We had a blast. I’ll never forget these kids, my fellow teachers, and this very special place.

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One thought on “Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center: Three days with cold, wet, 5th graders

  1. Pingback: Wolf Ridge trip coming soon — help us if you can. | The 58th Year

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