THE FOUR OVERARCHING GOALS OF Sun Valley COMMUNITY SCHOOL’S OUTDOOR PROGRAM ARE TO:
- Build relationships;
- Provide opportunities for personal growth;
- Develop relationships with wild places;
- Teach outdoor skills.
These goals are reflected in the Elementary School Outdoor Program trips, where students increase their appreciation for nature, explore local habitats, and build group cooperation through team building games.
Students also begin to learn and practice the basic outdoor skills they will need for future trips. Most of the trips are day trips. Students embark on their first overnight trip in the spring of third grade. Elementary outdoor activities take place each season with each grade. Several in-class pre- and post-trip activities are planned as well.
Fall: Kindergarteners spend two days exploring in the Lake Creek area, an engaging outing that includes a scavenger hunt and creating sand paintings.
Winter: The class heads north for two day trips to Galena Lodge, where they spend one day snowshoeing and one day nordic skiing.
Spring: Students head outside to explore the natural landscape during two day trips in the Valley.
Fall: The first grade takes two day trips in the Trail Creek area, first to Boundary Creek and then to Summit Creek to explore fire ecology and changing leaves.
Winter: Students explore campus habitats and Oregon Gulch beaver ponds on snowshoes.
Spring: The class investigates the aquatic landscape during their spring outdoor days, first learning about fly tying and fishing on campus and then taking their new skills to Hayspur Fish Hatchery and Silver Creek.
Fall: Second graders venture to the Trail Creek Beaver Ponds and Oregon Gulch Beaver Ponds, where they investigate how beavers affect the environment.
Winter: Students spend two days learning to build snow shelters at Lake Creek.
Spring: Students learn about lava tubes and explore caves in the Shoshone area, then they travel to Craters of the Moon the next day to investigate further.
Fall: The third grade fall trip investigates Southern Idaho geology and volcanism. Students visit Black Butte Crater on the first day and then explore Black Magic Canyon on the second day.
Winter: Students spend two days learning the art of building snow shelters.
Spring: The class floats the Birds of Prey section of the Snake River, overnighting at Three Island Crossing State to learn about pioneer history.
Fall: On this trip students will investigate the traditional ways of the Native Peoples of Idaho. We will travel to the Sacajawea Center in Salmon, Idaho and spend three days learning about the tools, food, and traditions of the first residents of Idaho. We will also learn more about Lewis and Clark's journey and Sacajawea's role in guiding them to the Pacific.
Winter: Fourth graders spend two days practicing winter skills and overnight in the famed Boulder Yurt. Students will learn the skills it takes to stay safe and have fun in the winter.
Spring: Expedition Yellowstone teaches students about the natural and cultural history of Yellowstone National Park, investigates current issues affecting the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and promotes stewardship and preservation in the park and in home communities. Emphasis is on learning through direct experience in the outdoors. Students participate with teachers and parent chaperones in hikes, field investigations, discussions, creative dramatics, and journal writing.
Fall: The fifth grade ventures to the Hagerman Valley in the fall for a a three-day, two-night excursion. The focus of the trip is to build camping skills, unify the class through team building, and learn about the Snake River aquifer.
Winter: The class takes a two-day, one-night outing to Galena lodge, where they spend time on skis and snowshoes and work with avalanche beacons.
Spring: In what has become an iconic trip for Community School fifth graders, the class travels to Seattle and Puget Sound for a journey aboard the schooner Adventuress. Students, as the crew of the Adventuress, learn about all things nautical, Puget Sound, and marine biology.
- Encourage a lifelong love of wild places;
- Teach leadership skills, self-reliance, and self-care;
- Instill a respect for the outdoors and start children thinking about the importance of practices like Leave No Trace;
- Foster independence in a nurturing and structured environment;
- Learn about amazing places, both near campus and far;
- Promote teamwork and cooperation;
- Learn to step outside of comfort zones;
- Build strong relationships with classmates;
- Have fun!