6th grade students — and their parents — stepped outside their comfort zones as they camped, caved, hiked, and danced in nearby Kentucky.
By Chris Greathouse
On April 26th & 27th, CWS 6th graders camped and caved in central Kentucky. The trip was an excellent opportunity for students to explore the natural world and challenge themselves in new ways, which is a cornerstone of Waldorf education.
By participating in outdoor activities like hiking and caving, students learn practical skills such as navigation and teamwork, as well as developing their physical and mental endurance. These skills help foster a sense of independence, responsibility, and resilience that will serve them well in all aspects of life. They also allow students time to appreciate and connect with their surroundings, and to focus on the journey more than the destination.
Camping and caving are two examples of outdoor activities that are often part of the Waldorf curriculum. These activities present unique challenges that help students develop important skills, such as problem-solving, teamwork, and resilience. In the face of physical obstacles and natural elements, students learn to work together, communicate effectively, and overcome their fears. These experiences are not only valuable for personal growth but also for fostering a deeper appreciation of and respect for the natural world.
Camping beneath a clear sky granted students an opportunity to use their astronomical observation skills practiced earlier this year, and caving allowed students to get up close and personal (in fact, a little too personal, for some!) to geology, which students also studied earlier. Pine Hill Cave is a wild cave in Mt. Vernon, KY, and navigating it is no easy task! Students crawled under low ceilings, faced sharp rocks and slippery surfaces, all while walking in icy waters with only headlamps to light the way. Students emerged with more grit, outside and inside.
Astronomy and Geology in sixth grade meet children where they are developmentally as they are figuring out their place between the earth and the heavens, stepping more into themselves as they grow. Sixth graders are leaving the dreamy childhood consciousness and entering awake adolescence. They are hungry for facts and laws, concepts grounded in experience, and observational sciences like Geology and Astronomy help root their nascent capacity for reason and concept in feeling and the senses.
The steep hike to Indian Fort Lookout allowed them to witness stunning views of the surrounding area, while the folk dancing at Happiness Hills Farm provided a chance to immerse themselves in local culture and history.
After their hike in the Pinnacles south of Berea, students Do-si-do'ed, promenaded, and swung their partners round and round the barn at Happiness Hills Farm.
In addition to outdoor experiences, CWS also emphasizes the importance of learning about different cultures in experiential ways such as through song and dance. Through these mediums, students are able to connect with other cultures in a meaningful way, gaining a deeper understanding of their customs, traditions, and values. This helps to foster empathy and respect for diversity, which are essential values needed for creating a more just and equitable society.
Overall, the camping and caving trip was a fantastic way for CWS students to enhance their understanding of the world and their place in it. It exemplifies how a CWS education encourages students to engage with their environment, develop their skills and interests, and gain a deep appreciation for the natural world.