Outdoor Education Programs and Services
MCCSC partners with several organizations to provide an outdoor education experience for our students in 4th through 6th grade at all of our elementary schools. Below, you will see more information on each program as well as information about the Leadership Through Service (LOTS) program available to high school seniors. You can view the schedule for the programs here.
4th Grade: Griffy Lake Nature Day
Beginning in 2009, MCCSC partnered with Bloomington Parks and Recreation to expand outdoor learning opportunities with a Science Field Day at Griffy Lake Nature Preserve for MCCSC 4th grade students. This one-day experiential environmental education program incorporates hands-on outdoor activities that meet state science standards and connect students with local natural resources. The students study aquatic micro-organisms, fish adaptations, and native plant and wildlife identification. Environmental education specialists from Bloomington Parks and Recreation plan pre-experience visits to the schools to prepare the students and teachers for the day. Local environmental education specialists volunteer to teach the module curriculum. Grant monies cover all of the costs for this experience, including transportation. The Bloomington Parks and Recreation specialists also provide post visit assessments and activities.
5th Grade: Bradford Woods
Beginning in 1957, the Bloomington Metropolitan Schools began a partnership with Indiana University for a five day outdoor education program conducted for fifth grade students at Bradford Woods. Lora L. Batchelor, a teacher and administrator, spearheaded the development of a curriculum for this program. This experience became, and still is today, an anticipated adventure for fifth grade students. It is one of the longest running school/outdoor center relationships still in existence today. The impact that the outdoor education program at Bradford Woods has had for MCCSC students over the past 60 years is immeasurable. Most families in our community have had multi-generations benefit from this nationally acclaimed partnership; an attribute that cannot be claimed by too many school programs.
Today, Bradford Woods serves nearly 850 MCCSC fifth graders per year. While much has changed since 1957 (students no longer stay in canvas platform tents, and the typical stay is three days instead of five), the core goals of the program remain the same as in 1957:
- Engage students in immersive learning that deepens their understanding of the environmental, historical, and cultural relationships that connect us to our surroundings.
- Promote respect and stewardship of the natural and cultural resources through increased connections and awareness of the environment.
- Provide students with a transformative experience that teaches greater respect for self and others.
6th Grade: Leonard Springs Nature Day
Beginning in 2005, MCCSC partnered with Bloomington Parks and Recreation to provide a Science Field Day at Leonard Springs Park for MCCSC 6th grade students. The study trip is hands-on with a curriculum that follows the sixth grade science standards. Leonard Springs Park is a unique setting full of all types of "environmental laboratories." The students study water quality, karst topography, soil composition, and forest and wetland ecosystems. Environmental education specialists from Bloomington Parks and Recreation plan pre-experience visits to the schools to prepare the students and teachers for the day. High school environmental science students serve as group leaders while local environmental education specialists volunteer to teach the module curriculum. Grant monies cover all of the costs for this experience, including transportation. The Bloomington Parks and Recreation specialists also provide post visit assessments and activities.
6th Grade: Camp Emma Lou
The purpose of Camp Emma Lou "TEAM" field trips is to engage every MCCSC 6th grade student, regardless of income, through a series of outdoor field trips that promote Teamwork, Exercise, Accountability, and Mentoring (TEAM). Students are provided the opportunity to visit the outdoor recreational retreat, Camp Emma Lou, for a full day of outdoor mentoring activities. They rotate students through six 30-minute stations that engage students in team building and leadership activities. They also offer a fishing station and a feeding/petting station, which features llamas, alpacas, emus, miniature donkeys, and goats. Students learn the value of service by hearing the story of Tyler Frenzel and participating in a scavenger hunt of "Tyler's Favorite Things" at Tyler's Treehouse. Students get plenty of exercise through built in free time at different points during the day.
All field trips are free of charge to students and the schools. Trained high school-age students act as station leaders. This provides mentoring to the 6th grade students while offering valuable leadership and responsibility roles to the older students.
Seniors: Bradford Woods Leadership Opportunities Through Service (LOTS)
When asked,” What was the most memorable experience you had in elementary school?” most sixth grade students reply, “Fifth grade camp at Bradford Woods.” Similarly, senior applicants for the Leadership Opportunities Through Service (LOTS) regularly write in their required essay on why they should be selected as a LOTS Senior, “I want to be a positive role model for fifth grade students like my LOTS Senior was for me.”
The LOTS Senior program is part of the Outdoor Education Program curricula for the MCCSC. It provides an opportunity for selected high school seniors to receive leadership training and to accompany a fifth grade class as it goes to Bradford Woods for its outdoor education experience. The LOTS Senior program is an integral part of the MCCSC Outdoor Education Program due to the role the LOTS Seniors have in the overall camp experience for the fifth grade students. The program could not function without the LOTS Seniors.
Each spring, MCCSC juniors may apply for the LOTS Senior program for their senior year. Application packets are available in late March in the high school counseling offices. Note: Due to Covid19 precautions, the application is available online for the 2020-21 school year.