Wolf Ridge Experience

Hello Nerstrand Families,

 It has certainly been a wild ride with all of the snow days over the last three weeks.  I have never seen anything quite like it!  Many people are wondering about possible snow make up days, and Nerstrand School will plan on following Faribault Schools lead on this.  I will let you know as soon as we have that information.  

Today in the building we are feeling the love of Valentine's Day.  Many children bring Valentines before the 14th and passing them out is as exciting as getting them-maybe more so!  This is one of those big days in the year of an elementary school where children are so pleased to be with friends and staff members showing their appreciation and caring for each other.  It is wonderful to see!

I was able to attend the Wolf Ridge 5th grade trip this year for the first time.  I wanted to share some of my observations about the benefits of the trip, the experiences students had, and this fits in well with the caring we see around Valentine's Day.  

It was a challenging week because of the cold.  I won't sugar coat it; the cold was brutal!   However, our students were so positive and had a real "can do" attitude the entire week!  All of the adults kept a close eye on children to make sure they were dressing appropriately, but the children were really responsible about their own dressing/preparation for the outdoors.  And believe me, we were outdoors~everyday.  Wolf Ridge did more preparation with the kids indoors then they would typically do, but we always followed our schedule.  The one exception was Morgan's group during the ropes course.  We had to come in early because it was so very cold.  This was cut short for the adults that were stationed on the towers.  Morgan, Kurt Klett and Robert Waddell were at stations for 2 hours or more while I brought small groups of children back and forth from a warm building to the coarse.  Thank you to these three adults who put up with extreme cold to try to make sure every child that wanted to do the course got through.  Unfortunately not every child was able to do that course that day because of the cold.  However, that was the only event that got cut short during the week.

All of the activities were led by certified naturalists at Wolf Ridge and we were able to study/explore the following:  ice fishing (yes, we did it!  One group caught and released 12 fish), snowshoeing (I made an average of 20,000 steps on my fitbit every day!), animal tracking (we saw a deer and a lot of tracks), geocaching (my group ditched me because I couldn't get through the waist deep snow!), bird study (chickadees landing on everyone's hands and heads!), climbing the rock wall (I couldn't ), Ropes course (I could), team games (children had to work together to achieve their goal), winter survival (we all survived and a few groups built their own fire), making block prints, making paper, an assembly on birds of prey (compared a chicken named Mallorie with an owl and red tailed hawk), an assembly on moose (wow they are big and are in competition with deer for survival), met a porcupine named Thistle, had to learn to share a dorm room with many other people, helped serve food to others during KP duty, had fun on the bus and stopping at Toby's, and experienced a week of learning and exercise that few people ever get to do!

Those are the things I can tell you that we did that were obvious, but there were many intangible experiences that happened that I observed and made me proud of our children and our school.  No I didn't climb the wall, but many others did and that surprised some of them.  However, everyone supported each other's achievements; whatever they ended up being.   To see children shine in a new and different setting it what this trip is about, as much as the science and environmental learning.  Children that may not see themselves as very physically skilled were put in situations where they could see their abilities in a new light.  Overcoming fear and challenging yourself is an important component to this week, and measuring your success by your own standards and not someone else's'.  The other thing I observed that was so great, was how everyone cheered each other on and worked as a team.  In the ropes course every child had a partner on the ground that was supporting them and helping them move to the next stage.  I know that one part of the ropes course terrified me, but my ropes course buddy, Kaylie, got me through it.  Without her help and the encouragement from Jenny Siegert, Dana Jans and Sherri Langfeldt I would have turned around on the swinging bridge and never made it through.  Those moments are the ones I cherish when we see each other in our best light and believe in each other unconditionally.  

This trip would not be possible without the commitment from our two Woodlands teachers, Andrew Lubinski and Morgan Welborn.  It is an intense week for them, and yet they kept an eye on children always, and kept morale up the few times kids were feeling low.  It also wouldn't be possible without our parent chaperones, who were fantastic.  Thank you so much to Sherri Langfeldt (kept taking pictures of all the kids during the week), Jenny Siegert (also huge picture taker and overcame her fear on the ropes course), Dana Jans (did the ropes course backwards!), Robert Waddell (fire maker and lift of spirit!), Kurt Klett (overseeing all the kids, and doing everything to make their experience a great one!).  Our school is so grateful to these parents for their help and commitment to this trip.  

We'll be sending information to families of our upcoming 5th grade class about next year's trip.  We will be looking for parent volunteers for that one too!  Thank you to all of our families for your support of our school!