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Students Venture into the Wild and Out of Their Comfort Zones

Students Venture into the Wild and Out of Their Comfort Zones

Rather than memorizing facts or reading about others’ experiences, students at The Rumson Country Day School learn by doing, with hands-on discovery and experimentation. Ready for fully immersive experiences, Upper School students embark on educational wilderness adventures each year. This fall, eighth graders ventured to Forest Lake Camp in the Adirondacks to learn and stretch themselves in new ways.

“The Adirondack experience is scheduled early in the school year to establish a foundation on which to build throughout the eighth grade,” said Head of the Upper School Bill Lamb. “It offers the class an opportunity to coalesce as a group and to recognize strengths and abilities that may not necessarily be recognized every day at school.”

Multi-day trips like the Adirondack adventure have become a part of RCDS’s long-held traditions and a rite of passage for fifth through eighth graders. Traveling with their teachers and peers encourages students to take healthy risks in a safe and supportive setting while fostering personal growth. Students participate in age-appropriate activities that require problem-solving, promote teamwork and leadership, and provide opportunities to create lifelong memories.

“I’ll never forget the hiking day,” said eighth grader Henry Moore. “It [the hike] was tough, uphill, and rocky. But once we reached the peak, it was worth it – for the view and that feeling of accomplishment.”

“It’s like studying for a test or practicing for a sport,” added classmate Charlotte Cerussi. “Doing it is hard work, but when you finish your test or play in your game you feel proud.”

The intense hikes are an element of the trip that generates quite the buzz among students. Younger generations anticipate the treks which span up to six and half miles. By the time Henry, Charlotte and their classmates completed the challenge themselves, any concerns were replaced with a staggering sense of accomplishment among the adventurers.

“I watched students push themselves to new levels,” observed School Counselor Sarah Fichtner who chaperoned the trip. “At the ropes course, I saw students step up as leaders and guide their peers. On the hike, I saw students persevere through feelings of doubt and exhaustion. While they were required to work physically to overcome these challenges, the mental growth they experienced set the foundation for success in their eighth-grade year and beyond.”

Experiential learning is offered schoolwide at RCDS. Intentionally selected field trips not only engage students in grades N-8, but also offer new perspectives which lead to a deeper understanding of their classroom studies. Generally, RCDS organizes more than 28 class trips a year. Just this month, students ventured off campus to expand their educational horizons at places like the NJ Sea Grant Consortium and Allaire Community Farm. Later this year, they will travel to places like the Poconos, Boston, Philadelphia, and NYC.