In the Frederick News Post recently was an article about the annual reunion of the Outdoor School – teachers and students alike – who attended the week-long overnight version of the Outdoor School in Frederick County years ago. Here at ThorpeWood, we feel strongly that time spent outdoors surrounded by nature is an education unto itself. In fact, last year’s article about the Outdoor School reunion moved Program Director Sam Castleman so much that it prompted him to write this letter to the editor.
For those of you unfamiliar with the legacy of the Outdoor School in Frederick County, this formerly week-long overnight program would bring about 140 fifth and sixth grade students up to the Catoctin mountains to spend time hiking, canoeing, fishing, doing crafts, and learning about plant and tree identification, in a camp built in 1938 by the Works Progress Administration. While budget cuts and increased liability, to name a few issues, caused the program to be reduced from an overnight offering to a one day offering, the experiences shared by both teachers and students of the Outdoor School had such an impact that they gather together annually to reminisce about days gone by.
Time spent in nature is a critical component to the development of each and every child. We won’t use this blog to debate the budget and curriculum decisions of our county schools – we think they provide a fantastic education for the children of our county. And we are thankful that the Outdoor School experience continues to this day – albeit just for a day long session. We will tell you that as members of this community, we often hear from parents and children alike who are so impressed and enthused about their day long experiences with the Outdoor School. It underscores the most urgent need to allow children to get outdoors and spend time learning about and communing with nature.
Yes, as we welcome another group of Head Start kids up to ThorpeWood, we are reminded that children and time spent outdoors equals happy and well-rounded children. Get outside and explore!