6th Year Camping Trip

By: Viv Turbak and Maya Shapiro (Crow Wing 6th years)   

The sixth graders of Crow Wing and Shingobee organized a trip to Afton State Park to commemorate the last of the original sixth graders moving to the adolescent level.  This trip was held at the end of the year, giving the sixth years two months to plan.  

 Great River School students overcome real world challenges through travel, practical life skills, arts, and time management in order to enter the adult world with compassion and a sense of responsibility.  The sixth grade trip prepares us for skills that we will need in the adolescent community, like the odyssey, the bike trip, and the senior canoe trip.  

There were three committees who organized the trip; activities, food, and logistics.  We planned all of the meals, we organized group activities and hikes, and we ordered the tents and busses.  Planning this trip helped us practice time management, and organizational skills, which are two important skills students at Great River work on developing.

Afton state park is a state park with tent and cabin sites. There are many fun activities that Afton has, like geocaching, archery, hiking, swimming, canoeing, and backpacking. We went on an overnight trip while practicing skills like setting up tents and hiking.  This helped prepare us for the bike trip, odyssey, and other adolescent key experiences.

We did a bunch of activities on the trip. One of them was hiking. We hiked to the Saint Croix river and waded into the very flooded, and murky water. We saw a 3-4 ft. long snake by the river, which we think was either a bull snake or a gopher snake.  We had so much fun at the river, and even rescued a boat (or a log, but to a bunch of weird sixth graders, what’s the difference?), called the S.S Alistair. The process included lifting a heavy log, sending people to walk out on the log while others held it steady . . . . and lots of shouting at each other.

Other than the hike, our trip consisted mostly of hanging out around the campsite.  We did a lot of hammocking. Everyone did things like sleep, talk, read, or eat in the hammocks at one point or another.  Another thing that we did was slackline. It was set up, and we all got an orientation. Then, we just went for it! There was a spotter, of course, but also a rope.  It was so fun to watch people trying it for the first time.

We played a lot of Ultimate during our campsite freetime.  We were all barefoot, and it was so wonderful to have our feet pounding against the ground, trying to block the frisbee.  On the second day, Matt brought his three year old daughters, Keegan and Juniper. We played frisbee, and volleyball with them, some students read them books and made them dandelion chain crowns,  and also taught them how to hammock and slackline.  

On this trip, we learned that camping is a lot of work.  Everyone who went on the trip had two meal shifts; cooking, and cleaning.  We learned to set up and take down the tents, and took turns filling the water.  

Matt, Alaina, and Amanda helped us through so much.  They dealt with our stress from planning, they took time out of their days to work with committees, and found work and concentration spaces for us when we needed to meet with our group(s). We would also like to thank Donna for helping us get food to eat, mess kits, stoves, etc.  She also ordered the tents for us, and answered all of our emails promptly. All of these guides have been so patient and understanding with all of us, and the things that they have done to support us, are infinite.