Every two years Ancona School’s 7th and 8th graders, with their dedicated team of teachers, board an airplane and travel from Chicago to YMCA Camp Chingachgook for a full week of outdoor education. Their motivation in coming so far is to experience the spectacular Adirondacks. Here they learn about the diverse ecosystems and cultural history of this area. They compare and contrast Lake George with Lake Michigan’s water quality and watershed management efforts, and they connect with each other to build a stronger learning community.
This year, on the heels of Ancona’s trip, neighboring Warrensburg 7th graders also had the opportunity to participate in a Chingachgook outdoor education program. A goal of their three day residential program is to learn more about their own backyard and what makes the Adirondack Park an amazing and complex place to live. They, too, connect with nature and each other to create meaningful and impactful learning experiences.
A unique difference between these schools exists. Warrensburg students are from a rural public school while Ancona students attend private school in an urban setting. Yet, this year both groups of students were in residence in mid-October. They all experienced Buck Mountain aflame with peak foliage and crisp autumn days. Students from each school worked together to overcome obstacles on the challenge course and practiced science at our aquatic learning lab. They applied lessons from home and school in a new environment resulting in social and intellectual growth. These are the universal gifts of facilitated field experiences at YMCA Camp Chingachgook. We are grateful to host such a diverse population of students and contribute to youth development both near and far.