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 Learning and Fun Meet With Outdoor Activities

In addition to the science-based curriculum and connection with nature that students get at Cuyamaca Outdoor School, they also have the chance to participate in various outdoor activities such as archery, rock climbing and high-tech treasure hunt.

The activities help build a sense of teamwork and camaraderie among the students. They also help encourage a life-long love of the outdoors by letting students know of some of the fun and challenging activities that are available locally.

“It’s just a great opportunity for them to try out things they might have never had a chance to try before,” said Susan Powell, a teacher at the school, also known as 6th Grade Camp

One of the activities is geocaching. Students use a small GPS device to help guide them to a series of six plaques that have a riddles about a local animal that the students have to decipher and answer before they move on to the next plaque.

Another favorite that many of the students are able to try for the first time at the school is archery. They learn basic techniques and safety precautions before they are able to practice their aim with the arrows.

Students also get a chance to scale rocks safely as they learn some of the basics of rock climbing. The focus again is on technique and safety while the students use real rock climbing ropes, harnesses and helmets.

Perhaps the activity that does the most to encourage teamwork and collaboration is a challenge known as Toxic River. Students form two teams and put their heads together to figure out how to arrange planks on small platforms in the ground in order to get across an imaginary toxic river. They have to work together quickly in order to get their whole team to the other side first without anybody falling in.

Students also go on a day-long hike, create crafts, sing songs around the campfire, visit a swimming hole, and get some uninterrupted time in nature to write essays about their experiences.

“For them to come up here and have all of these experiences is huge,” said Johnny Turner, a teacher at Reynolds Elementary School. “This is the best week of the year.”

Cuyamaca Outdoor School has connected more than one million students with science and nature since 1946. It's the only outdoor education program in San Diego County featuring credentialed teachers and a curriculum aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards.

Nearly 12,000 students each year attend Outdoor Science School during four- or five-day excursions in the mountains of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park east of San Diego.