Why Middle School is the Right Time for a Wilderness Adventure

Disclosure:: This post is sponsored by Episcopal School of Acadiana.

Why Middle School is the Right Time for a Wilderness Adventure

This spring, ESA is learning at a distance, with students and teachers connecting through virtual communities. To learn more about ESA’s distance learning, visit ESAcadiana.com/esa-beyond-the-oaks. In the meantime, we’re looking forward to when we can reunite on our campuses and enjoy group activities such as our eighth grade trip to North Carolina. The trip’s coordinator explains why taking a group of middle schoolers into the woods makes sense.

“Eighth graders are old enough to be pushed out of their comfort zones, but young enough to take something away from a wilderness experience. In terms of brain development, they’re in the right place.”

-Sarina Lapeyrouse, ESA teacher and trip coordinator

Each fall, ESA takes the entire eighth grade class on a wilderness adventure in the Pisgah National Forest of North Carolina.

The backpackers carry their own clothing and sleeping bags, as well as shelters, group ESA middle school in the woods for their outdoor adventurecooking gear, and food for a five-day, four-night hike. On the trail, they share the chores of cooking, setting up sleeping tarps, cleaning up the sites to leave no trace, reading maps, and leading hikes. Globetrek, as the ESA community calls the trip, has been an ESA tradition for almost forty years.

“Three nights is easy,” says trip coordinator Sarina Lapeyrouse. “The fourth night really pushes them, and gives them that breakthrough moment.” Lapeyrouse, who also teaches P.E. and coaches track-and-field and cross country, enjoys seeing the students learn to depend on one another and to work with people they might not normally work with at school.

rock climbing during ESA middle school trip in North Carolina
KODAK Digital Still Camera

Lapeyrouse collaborates with teachers and advisers to design the groups – made up of seven to ten students – so that each student has at least one close friend in the group, but is also placed with classmates with whom they don’t normally spend free time. Each group includes an ESA chaperone and a counselor from Inside Out, a North Carolina-based wilderness adventure outfit. The trip also includes rock climbing and whitewater rafting.

“The best part of the trip was being in a group of people I wasn’t used to working with and learning how to work together,” says eighth grader Allison Aucoin.

Cooking outdoors for ESA outdoor field trip

“Now I’m more open to other people’s ideas because we had to talk and listen to each other. I’m also more inviting and open to being friends with people I never thought I’d be friends with. On the trip, I learned problem-solving and I came to love the outdoors even more than I had before.”

“Tackling the challenges of the trip helps the students to mature. They’re pushed out of their usual comforts at all levels, from spending days and nights outside to being away from familiar technology,” says teacher and coach Ursula Quoyeser. “They come back refreshed, and they realize that they don’t need technology all of the time. And after conquering their fears, they have a bit more confidence in everything they do.”

After their wilderness adventure, eighth graders are invited to join the ESA Outing Club, an upper school club whose members canoe, kayak, hike, and raft throughout the south.

Who to contact to learn more about the eighth grade trip and middle school at ESA:

ESA’s Admissions expert Jon Berthelot can introduce you to middle school at ESA. Jon is an ESA teacher and parent, and has welcomed families to ESA for 15 years. He’s happy to answer all of your questions about academics, athletics, the arts, student clubs and activities, chapel, and more.ESA outdoor adventures

Jon Berthelot |337-365-1416 | [email protected]

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