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Sandy Journal

Altara students learn confidence, teamwork while trying new activities in camp setting

Dec 02, 2022 05:43PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

As Altara second- through fifth-grade students unloaded the buses at Camp Tracy, third-grader Willa Osborne was amongst them.

“I was really excited,” she said saying she remembered making friendship bracelets and going on a scavenger hunt last year. “Camp Tracy had all these fun activities for us to do in their Learning for Life program.”

Willa said this year, she hiked, ran an obstacle course, made and shot cardstock rockets, created beaded snakes, and played games, including tug-of-war.

“I kept my rocket as a souvenir,” she said. “We played a fun snowball game using crumbled-up paper where we threw around the snowballs and that team with the least number of snowballs on their side wins. I learned that you have to work as a team to get the accomplishment you want. We encouraged people and if they messed up, we were still very kind and helpful to them.”

Second-grade teacher Fernando Boluda-Garcia also appreciated the different learning atmosphere.

“This was an amazing field trip because all these activities they can enjoy in nature,” he said. “There was a bingo where in my case, we had them do it Spanish. It was good because every kid can do the activities, it’s not an activity for those with high skills sets; it’s for everyone.”

Every year, Altara Elementary accepts an invitation to go to Camp Tracy as “they learn life skills that are tied to our curriculum,” Principal Nicole Svee Magann said.

“This may give them an opportunity that maybe they wouldn’t do,” she said. “Maybe not every kid is going to see a horse or get to canoe or even hike. Kids are getting to be kids and they’re highly engaged the whole time. They’re learning how to do work in groups. They are learning leadership skills; they’re learning kindness and cooperation. It’s skills like working together, listening, communication. They’re learning in a different setting, and it creates a bonding opportunity. There's something about being outside; it’s kind of magical.”

As Camp Tracy is an affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America, students use its Learning for Life curriculum, said Georgia Smith, who coordinates the visit.

“We partner with a business as part of the United Way Day of Caring to provide volunteers for the students and The Boyer Company teamed up with Altara that day,” Smith said. “They staffed different stations. For instance, one of the stations was learning to trust and believing in yourself as kids did a trust walk on wooden poles being held by their classmates. The kids walked across it and as soon as they walked past them, it was their job to run back around and get in front of it again to continue and perpetuate the trust. They’re learning a lot of self-confidence and having the opportunity to develop new skills in a safe atmosphere.”

Older students, she said, learned leadership by taking a rowboat out with canoe paddles.

“We find one or two students understand what to do. For children who have never been on a rowboat and have no idea how to paddle, they will get you out there and they tend to spin you in a circle until these other students take initiative to explain to them how to paddle together,” she said. “It's really kind of fun to see them learn leadership and perseverance and not even realize they’re learning it. In some of the activities, you see a lot of teamwork and the kids will just start cheering each other on, encouraging one another. One of the benefits about a camp experience is that the activities look very simplistic, but it's all helping them test a different skill and try something that maybe they've never done before while having fun.”

Fifth-grader Emmett Matern was with his classmates Gretta Kauffman and Landry Tonks, recalling their favorite experiences.

Emmett said in his first time in a boat, he liked splashing around while having a water fight, but he learned how to paddle.

“It was a lot of fun once we got going,” he said.

Landry liked the hike.

“I liked there was a lot of bushes and different plants,” he said. “We hiked up the hill and could see the lake.”

Gretta is a horse lover.

“My favorite part was getting on the horse,” said Gretta, who has visited the camp every time since she could with the school. “The obstacle course was tougher for older grades than it is younger grades. It was kind of hard because I wanted to go as fast as I could, but I liked the challenge.”

Her dad, Jeff Kauffman, attended Camp Tracy as a youth and is supportive of Gretta and his second-grade daughter, Laini, getting to experience it.

“I love that they’re expanding their classroom walls, be out in nature, learn about real life applications from their schoolwork and learn how you can apply it,” Kauffman said. “It’s important to have that well rounded education. I think just being with their friends in that environment, being able to share that with each other what they learned is an amazing experience they’ll remember.”