Skipping Stones, FSM’s summer camping trips for our middle schoolers, turns ten years old this year! Each summer since 2006, groups of FSM students have gone camping in one of Minnesota’s state parks for five days and four nights. Trips include outdoor adventures such as inner-tubing down the Root River through Lanesboro, exploring caves in southeastern Minnesota, hiking to the top of Barn Bluff in Red Wing, cycling through the pine forests surrounding the headwaters of the Mississippi River, or rock-climbing at Shovel Point on the north shore of Lake Superior. Campers hike, swim, explore, and play night-games like “kick the can” and “ghost in the graveyard” and generally have a blast!

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Hiking in Whitewater State Park in 2006

 

Skipping Stones at Blue Mounds State Park in 2007
Skipping Stones at Blue Mounds State Park in 2007

 

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Ice cream break on McCarthy Beach State Park trip, 2015

 

Cycling, Skipping Stones trip to Whitewater State Park 2010
Cycling, Skipping Stones trip to Whitewater State Park 2010

 

There is also campsite down-time for students to hang out in camp telling stories, eat delicious camp food, sit around the campfire, or play board games. Even though these kids go to school together, spending a week together camping and adventuring allows them to get to know each other in new ways and strengthen friendships.

Skipping Stones at McCarthy Beach 2015
Campsite at McCarthy Beach 2015

 

Skipping Stones at Whitewater State Park in 2006
Fine dining at Whitewater State Park in 2006

 

Skipping Stones has its origins back in 2005 when summer program coordinator Kathy Glover noticed that although our summer program had good enrollment, there weren’t many middle school students participating.  Kathy, Amy Lyga (a 2005 middle school humanities teacher), and I discussed ideas for a summer program that would be developmentally appropriate and attractive to middle school students.

Leader Amy Lyga (in sunglasses) with Skipping Stones campers, Tettegouche State Park, 2006
Leader Amy Lyga (in sunglasses) with Skipping Stones campers, Tettegouche State Park, 2006

 

Our mutual love for the outdoors led us to creating an outdoors adventure camp which we named Skipping Stones. Each session would feature camping in various state parks, and incorporate different outdoor adventures. We envisioned activities that would allow lots of student choice and provide lots of opportunities for them to socialize with their peers in a low-key environment. That next summer (2006) we offered out first two camping trips–one to Tettegouche and a second to Whitewater. Over the last ten years, we have now taken over 100 students on 17 different Skipping Stones trips.

2006 Skipping Stones trip to Tettegouche State Park and the North Shore.
2006 Skipping Stones trip to Tettegouche State Park and the North Shore.

 

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Rock climbing, Skipping Stones trip to Tettegouche State Park 2010

 

In addition to Tettegouche and Whitewater State Parks, students have camped in Itasca, Blue Mounds, and McCarthy Beach State Parks. We even ran two trips to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan–back in 2011 when Minnesota state parks were closed because of the government shut-down. Over the years, lots of FSM staff have worked as camp counselors, including teachers Amy Lyga, Marshall Anderson, Janet Thometz, Veronica Guevara, Shane Zack, Rebecca Slaby, and myself.  FSM alumni often come work as assistant camp counselors.

Skipping Stones at Itasca State Park in 2008
Skipping Stones campers at Itasca State Park in 2008 with leaders Amy Lyga (left front) and alum Matt Jarvis (right).

 

Skipping Stones at McCarthy Beach in 2015
2015 Skipping Stones campers with leader Rebecca Slaby (center back in pink shirt) at McCarthy Beach.

 

Skipping Stones at Porcupine Mountains, session 2 in 2011. Photo by Veronica Guevara
Skipping Stones at Porcupine Mountains (Michigan) in 2011. Photo by Veronica Guevara

 

In 2014, we had a special alumni session to Tettegouche State Park. Photo by Bryan Hansel
In 2014, there was a special alumni session to Tettegouche State Park. Photo by Bryan Hansel

Register for Skipping Stones 2016

Skipping Stones 2016 – Return to Whitewater State Park! The Skipping Stones 2016 registration form is available in tomorrow’s newsletter and will be sent to FSM families.

Skipping Stones also has a week of all-day programming for FSM grades K-4, Nature and Art in the City (led by Steve and Marshall).

–Steve Moe, FSM middle school science teacher

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Fearless Skipping Stone leaders Steve Moe, alum Matt Jarvis, and Marshall Anderson, Whitewater State Park 2009

Read a post about Camping at Whitewater State Park in 2012 by FSM alum James Farnsworth.

Create Something Great, Summer Session at FSM

Although Skipping Stones camping trips are just for FSM students, our Create Something Great summer programs are open to the whole community. You can learn more about all the fun summer classes by visiting Friends School of Minnesota’s website fsmn.org or call Melanie at 651-621-8941 for more information.