Sixth Grade Conquers the AT
Sixth-grade students spend three days and two nights hiking and camping on the Appalachian Trail.
Every spring, the sixth grade enjoys a three-day, two-night wilderness experience. This trip is an annual event and a component of our school-wide Adventure Education curriculum. On this trip, students work to achieve many goals, including class unity, preparation for the eighth-grade wilderness trip, personal development, and care of and appreciation for the environment. At various times, the curriculum of the trip asks the students to reflect, address their larger group, study the environment, and work collaboratively. Group leaders from Indian Mountain Adventures serve as trail guides and overall wilderness experts. They work in collaboration with students and teachers throughout the entire process, including preparation and packing of food and gear, selection and scouting of trails and campsites, and facilitation of group activities and reflections.
Three groups, with an average of seven students, set foot to ground as they hike from various parts of Salisbury and Mount Riga into the woods. During day hikes, groups enjoy trails of varying difficulties, including the gradual and scenic journey to Bald Knob and conquering the steep rock face of Bear Mountain. No matter what the weather, students enjoy hiking all day, rock hopping, exploring after dinner, and telling fun and creepy stories at night. As part of the adventure education curriculum, students learn about wilderness safety as they pump creek water through a filter and store their food and toiletries in a bear box or bag. They carry all of their food in, eat what they bring, and are very careful not to leave any food bits behind. When it is time to go home, they leave their sites nicer than they found them and pack up all their belongings, including the trash.
The overall theme of this trip is to bond with each other, to learn about being environmentally responsible and safe in the wilderness, and to grow as individuals. Some feel challenged by the physical exertion of the trip. Some are confronted with food they have never eaten before. And others grow in their ability to be positive and productive members of a group. No matter what the obstacle, everyone returns having learned and grown, looking forward to another great wilderness adventure in eighth grade.