Outside Four Walls

Three quotes from the day:

“This was the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my whole life.”
“I personally grew today.”
“The kids are totally in awe of Zion.”

Up at 6:30, three groups left for canyoneering with Jonathan and his crew (our savvy Zion guides). Three groups, three different sites with very friendly names, and the groups hiked through narrow canyons, squeezing sometimes to get through, climbed over rocks and boulders, walked through water and sand until they finally made their way to the top where they stopped to breathe and take in the sublime Zion view. “The kids are totally in awe of Zion.”

Many of our kids haven’t rappelled, so it took real courage to lean, take that step back, and begin walking down the steep rock face. Everyone made it down, some hearts thumping harder than others, and once it was over, a new confidence was born. “I personally grew today.”
That’s just how this trip is. Kids are present in their fortune to be here, so they are game. They’ll try it all, and even if they are uncomfortable in the moment, they feel the reward once they’ve accomplished the difficult.

The Narrows: Usually hiking is pretty simple, but hiking through chilled, rocky water adds a level of challenge that is tougher than it looks in the pictures. The canyon is made for curious people, which luckily we are! Every five feet, there is something new to see, a nook or a cranny, a hole in the wall, a small cave, wildlife, a trail off to the west---where does it go? Our kids and teachers gobble this stuff up, and today was a Zion Chamber of Commerce day thanks to the glorious sunshine and moderate temperatures, so we took full advantage.

The van rides back to camp were quiet this afternoon. Kids slept. They looked out the windows and took it all in. They reflected. They were tired in that good way that feels accomplished and grateful. Tonight, they cooked, played games, laughed, shared stories of the day, and soon they will take to their tents and they will sleep hard.

Tomorrow will present another day of the awe-inspiring challenge, and it will be “the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my whole life” for a few more enthusiastic adventurers. 

This was an excerpt from Southwest Trip blog.  It is the final trip, a culmination of four years of TLS experiences outdoors, the pinnacle of learning OUTSIDE FOUR WALLS of the school classroom. 

Starting in 5th grade, the final year of lower school, the journey is short but significant. One night and two days at Carter Caves State Park, 50 fifth graders, and their teachers become adventurous spelunkers, hikers, and canoers. They learn about the environment and each other as they play team-building games, create a most-entertaining talent show, eat and sleep together. There is much learning packed into this 48 hours. For some, this is their first "camp" experience, an inaugural experience that lays the foundation upon which the next three years of TLS Trips will build in length, rigor, and lessons.

The second Monday each September you will find groggy sixth graders and their teachers loading the bus before sunrise for the journey to the North Carolina woods, Green River Preserve.  Crucial to the success of 6th grade, this TLS trip, like the Green River, converges kids new to The Lexington School and TLS kids new to middle school into one fellowship and one community for the next three years. Green River Preserve "inspires campers to have a greater understanding of themselves, their environment, and their fellow man." That is exactly what happens for Lexington School kids as they participate in this special program. For four days and three nights, kids unplug from computers, television, video games, and cell phones, and they connect with nature, learn their own strengths, and begin to figure out who they are. That's what adolescence is all about, and the Green River trip is an adventure that marks the start to a larger adventure called middle school.

TLS Trips are as much about the people as they are about the places they travel. The relationships between the students and teachers are the essence of what makes The Lexington School work. Taking faculty and kids out of the traditional classroom and asking them to stretch in new ways together builds trust that otherwise takes much more time. When kids trust the adults who teach them, they are more willing to take risks and therefore reach a potential they might not otherwise know. TLS Trips are a cornerstone of the Lexington School mission and philosophy.

What you don't see in the video on the 7th-grade trip are the moments when the teachers and kids sit around talking, play frisbee or "chicken," when they sing and dance together, or when someone needs a quiet moment of support, when there's the hug or the high five. Those moments happen frequently on TLS trips, and they are significant in the overall development of these young people.

The Barrier Islands of South Carolina are the perfect place for a different approach to curiosity and resilience. Marine ecology is a science few 7th graders have encountered, so immersing them in the lure and diversity of the salt marsh is exciting to watch. Add the mind and body challenge of surfing, U.S. Naval history, and community living, and you have a complete classroom.

Fast forward or return to Zion and the north rim of the Grand Canyon and watch 8th graders climb rock walls, hike narrow canyons, rappel 100-foot cliffs, mountain bike, camp, cook their own food, jump 20 feet to ice cold water. Watch them stretch themselves physically and emotionally as they learn to live together in a rugged environment without the comforts they have at home. This is the grand finale, the capstone, the trip they remember for the rest of their lives both literally in the memories they share, and figuratively in the skills that they take with them to the next great chapter, the next grand adventure. #OutsideFourWalls

Other "Outside Four Walls" stories:

It's the Element of Surprise: Outdoor Adventure Club [Video]

The mission of The Lexington School is to provide an education of the highest quality to students in preschool through middle school. In a structured, nurturing environment, The Lexington School seeks to instill integrity, a life-long enthusiasm for learning, and a strong work ethic.
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