Friends School of Minnesota 5th and 6th graders had a great time on their three-day, two-night trip to Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center in Lanesboro, Minnesota! The visit to Eagle Bluff met several objectives for 5/6:

Community-Building

Building a sense of community at the beginning of middle school is a very important part of what we do at Friends School and who we are as a Quaker, progressive education school. We believe that these overnight trips provide both structured and unstructured opportunities for students to get to know each other beyond the classroom. The trips builds trust among each other and fosters friendships. Holding a compliment circle at the end of the trip was an important way that students reflected on how they came together as a group to support each other throughout the trip.

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Challenges

On the trip, students learned to deal with individual challenges, whether the challenge was being homesick, adapting to different kinds of foods, or getting along with dorm-mates. They also set individual goals for themselves on the extensive ropes course. In groups, students learned how to cooperate as a team to complete group challenges and team-building games.

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Environmental Education

We wanted students to learn more about the river as this is the year of river field trips. Eagle Bluff is located on the Root River which feeds into the Mississippi River. The students hiked and studied the Root River, collected water samples, and tested the turbidity, pH, dissolved oxygen, and nitrate levels in a chemistry lab. They recorded observations, sketched, and collected river facts in a journal which they keep for the entire year and which they take on all river trips.

In addition, we participated in two evening Naturalist presentations, one about caves and one about raptors. The staff were a mix of interns, Hamline graduate students, and full-time year-round staff. They were all knowledgeable, well-organized, and engaging.

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The trip was a great experience for the 5/6. At the end of each day, we gathered in our “homeroom,” a big comfy living room with a fireplace. We lounged, played games, sang songs, performed skits, roasted s’mores, and enjoyed read-aloud. The kids crawled off to bed each night exhausted and satisfied.

Thank you to FSM staff Jeannette, Kris, Rebecca, Garth M., and David as well as parent Garth H. for chaperoning the trip and making it the best experience possible for the whole fifth and sixth grades!

– Rebecca Slaby, Middle School Humanities Teacher

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FSM families can view more trip photos and videos (thank you, Garth M.) on our photo site. The link is on the FSM Community Portal (login required).