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RHMS teaches the Rocky Mountain experience

The RHMS gang gathered around the firepit to start day three.

Article by Kathy Dunker with photos by Steve Green

What is the sixth grade experience? Three cheers for outdoor ed! Rocky Heights Middle School (RHMS) newbies got the chance for some mountain fun with a three day, two night stay at YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park during October.

The students stayed in the main lodge, participated in classes that supported their science curriculum, and engaged in team building and critical thinking exercises. Classes included Adventure II which focused on cooperation, trust, communication,
respect, goal setting and problem solving. Students participate in physical and mental challenges such as a blindfolded maze and a friendship bridge, which involved walking across a log while holding hands as a group. Each person had to help balance the rest of the group.

Also included was Rock and Ice Class in which students become rock detectives by using observation skills and participating in hands-on activities. They identified the major rock types and the different processes that form them. They also learned about weathering and erosion processes that formed Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding area.

One of the crowd favorites was the Survival Class where students learned outdoor survival skills and used teamwork to construct and build a shelter. Students also enjoyed the night hike where they learned about nocturnal animals and their unique adaptations to the environment in the dark. And a special treat was the huge number of stars that were visible while hiking without flashlights.

Students participated in a day hike where they could choose from four different hikes based on difficulty levels. Evening activities included roller skating and volleyball or basketball in the Long House. Since there was a fire ban in effect, the students gathered around a pretend fire with swimming noodles as logs and small flashing lights to give the feeling of a fire’s glow. S’mores were served uncooked, but the spirit of the evening was there.

The trip took place during two consecutive weeks due to the large number of sixth grade students this year at RHMS. As sixth grader, Claire Green, commented, “We had a great time building shelters, going on a night hike and learning different ways to work together in the challenge course. My favorite activity was learning to build a shelter that could help us survive the night in the woods.”

Students figuring out a listening challenge; the fifteen kids were instructed to place one foot on the tire and one foot in the air.



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