Learning in the great outdoors | SteamboatToday.com

Learning in the great outdoors

Steamboat sixth-graders find Outdoor Education Day serves dual purposes

Brent Boyer

As long as the day didn’t involve math, Hannah Ramirez knew she’d have fun.

Ramirez, a sixth-grader at Steamboat Springs Middle School, joined her fellow sixth-graders for the school’s annual Outdoor Education Day on Thursday, an opportunity to get out of the classroom and into recreational activities ranging from ice skating to ice climbing. Groups of students rotated from station to station throughout the day to sample each of the offerings.

Teacher Matt Tredway led a group of students to Fish Creek Falls, where the brave and adventurous navigated the icy vertical route of frozen water.

Other teachers took kids to Howelsen Ice Arena for ice skating and Howelsen Hill for skiing and snowboarding. On school grounds, three separate stations covered snow-cave building, snowshoe softball and winter landscape art.

Parent volunteer and artist Jan Fischer led students through a winter art exercise in the school’s new sunroom at the far end of the middle school expansion. Using oil pastels, the students were encouraged to create art in which they brought color to winter landscapes dominated by snow and leafless trees.

Mia Quick was one of just a couple of dozen students to strap crampons to her ski boots and hack ice axes into the blue ice of the falls.

“You could see the water through the ice,” Quick said. “It was a lot of fun. It was a lot harder than it looked, too.”

And scary at times, as well, she said.

“The scariest part was coming down because you had to lean backwards and walk down,” she said.

Quick, a first-time ice climber, said she appreciated the opportunity to try something new and challenging.

“You can go skating or skiing any day,” Quick said. “It’s not every day you get to go ice climbing.”

“And you get to do it with your friends,” classmate Erika Walters interjected.

But Outdoor Education Day is much more than just letting friends have a play day together, said teacher Heidi Chapman from the football field, where she led students through games of snowshoe softball.

“The bottom line is, we’re really into getting the entire team of sixth-graders together,” Chapman said. “We have 156 kids (in the sixth grade). It’s really nice to bring them all together.”

Providing the chance for students to try new activities is the other benefit of Outdoor Education Day, she said.

“Letting them taste all the opportunities this town has to offer” is important, Chapman said. “And (teachers) loved doing it. It’s good to interact with the kids on different levels. You (interact with them) outside and inside the classroom.”

Teachers also will mold the activities of the recreation day into discussion of how surroundings affect the lives of residents, Chapman said.

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