Langley Middle School Adventure Education Program
South Whidbey School District
November 23, 2005
To Whom It May Concern:
The Adventure Education Program at Langley Middle School is now about 12 years old; about the age of the kids in the class. It is a small enterprise (first one elective class of 13/14 year old girls and boys then for some years two classes with the addition of a 7th grade section and finally now just one class each semester again) with a long history and big aspirations. It is also at somewhat of a mid-life crisis due to budget constraints, personnel changes and a need for new worlds to conquer.
The program started as a single 8th grade semester class in which a 5 day sailing/kayak/camping trip was planned, executed and documented by students under the guidance of one instructor and one staff member assistant. Typically there was a Fall and a Spring trip each followed by reflection/documentation activities like video creation, slide shows and various presentations to a parents and friends night. The program has served approximately 600 students over the years and was nurtured by two staff members who have now moved on to other things. New people have stepped forward are looking to evolve the program.
The idea behind Adventure Ed. has always been to create an experience of the outdoors that will inspire a sense of wonder and even joy which in turn will form the foundation of future academic interest and excellence. How will kids learn to care about the natural world if they have little direct experience in that world? School bound study is not enough to stimulate a thirst for understanding; Adventure Education and programs like it strive to put the horse back in front of the cart as regards motivation and learning.
Support from our district has been steady but not deep. The program has been allowed to continue but not to thrive; it is exists as a perennial pilot program, a nod to an idea, far from an embrace. Nevertheless our district is something of a pioneer in this area relative to most public school administrations.
Expeditions up to this point have relied on the generosity of individual community people for material support. These sources are reaching exhaustion and were never meant to sustain the program indefinitely. To take this project forward we need a chance to inject new excitement and, well, adventure, into Adventure Education in the hope of gaining acceptance and recognition of the basic idea as profoundly important to development of middle school students.