A fall retreat to Snow Mountain Ranch
By Julie Matuszewski; photos courtesy of DCS Montessori
According to the Montessori philosophy, adolescents need to begin establishing their independence as they learn to get along with one another while feeling acceptance from their peers. Away from home and their regular routines, DCS Montessori (DCSM) middle school students spent four days and three nights together on a fall retreat to Snow Mountain Ranch.
It is intentional that the fall retreat is scheduled at the beginning of the school year. Research from the University of Illinois shows that when teens connect with peers and form relationships, they develop stronger life skills such as maintaining relationships, gaining stability during times of stress and transition, and that experience can lead to academic achievement. The DCSM fall retreat is designed to not only foster the development of peer relationships but to connect as a middle school community.
“The greatest gifts we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.”
– Maria Montessori
High rope challenges, archery, survival, roller skating, winter tubing and spending time with the sled dog huskies were among the retreat group activities selected. Each activity offered students opportunities in personal growth and independence. For some students, the fall retreat was their first time away from home. Students expanded leadership and compassion skills.
The team building activities focused on communication, trust and leadership. “Hanging with the Huskies” was a favorite highlight for the students. Through interaction with champion sled dog runners, the students learned what makes a good team, what characteristics make a good lead, and the equipment used for racing.
“This trip was a great opportunity to bond as a community after a difficult year. It was a great start for the school year,” said DCSM eighth grade student Gabe Dozois.