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The Value of Outdoor Education: Promoting Personal Growth and Community Development

By Rachael Bailey, Faculty

Outdoor Education at Jesse Remington High School is a valued and crucial part of the curriculum. Defined, outdoor education is organized learning outside of the classroom and typically involves active engagement of the participants. The faculty of the outdoor education program seeks to assist student growth in areas such as social awareness, problem solving, team building and responsibility.

Moreover, the program strives to provide students with tools for success. The experiences contribute to students’ attentiveness of the environment and ability to assess risk as well as provide opportunities for personal achievement. The development of these characteristics strengthens a student’s self-confidence. More specifically, being able to overcome a challenge provides the student with the tenacity to face future trials. Structured group work also develops the student’s awareness of others and teaches the participants methods of sustaining effective relationships. For example, building trust, tolerance and learning to communicate effectively are a few of the lessons addressed. Overall, outdoor education seeks to equip students with the tools to succeed in their relationships, school work, and future careers.

With that in mind, our programs are intentionally designed to provide a range of unique experiences that, for many of our graduates, become lifelong pursuits. Most recently, Dan Burgher, the head of the outdoor education program, taught students how to use a compass and orient a map. To apply this practically, we found the bearing between two points on a map and began our trek near Jesse Remington’s sugar shack with the goal of reaching the Philbrick Farm. Each student met the goal. Also, at the beginning of January, alumni and families participated in a Winter Triathlon, which included ice skating and other outdoor activities.

This past fall, our events included flag football, ultimate frisbee, Korean archery, riflery, and initiative elements. In addition, at the beginning of each year, the school organizes a Fall Mountain Retreat, in which students and faculty travel to the White Mountains for three days. During this time, we invest in building relationships through chapel services, playing games, and hiking. This is a significant time for the students as it allows them to become acquainted with each other at the start of a new year. As facilitators and educators, the faculty have sought to broaden the students' experience with the events this past fall.

Conclusively, outdoor education is a valuable and important part of the schedule at Jesse Remington High School. There are many long-term benefits from this program, which significantly contribute to student success not only at Jesse Remington but also after graduation.

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