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Outdoor Education - organized learning that takes place in the outdoors - is experiential education: students learn by seeing, touching and doing things for themselves. It is complementary to that which they have learned in the classroom. It reinforces ideas and concepts with real experience.
Berkshire Outdoor Center's Outdoor Education programs for schools provide hands-on opportunities to reinforce lessons learned in the classroom, developing an understanding of others, an appreciation for the environment, and improved self-esteem and self-confidence. It also provides students with a break from the routine of classroom learning, bringing them together into a new environment here in the Berkshires.
Schools typically choose to blend a variety of activity types into the Outdoor Education experience at Berkshire Outdoor Center. All of our programs can be tailored to your needs. Choose from a variety of activities, including:
Environmental Education - a variety of hands-on ecology classes utilizing our 1,400 acres.
Leadership Development - experiences that help develop self-esteem, self-confidence, communication skills and group work.
Adventure Recreation - activities that teach outdoor, activity-specific physical skills and help break up the day, allowing for personal debriefing time and reflection.
Our Outdoor Education Program is suitable for students ranging from 3rd to 8th grade. Our staff are trained to manipulate the program to match the age and academic level of all participants.
All of our activities have been matched with the curriculum frameworks of MA, CT and NY State. Each of the activities satisfies objectives within these curricula.
Pond Ecology - Students will learn about animal adaptations to an aquatic habitat, focusing on insect life in the pond. Students will also explore water quality issues and how their actions may affect aquatic habitats.
Beaver Ecology - Students will learn about the American Beaver, its habitat and its adaptations to its habitat, before embarking on a search for evidence of beavers, and the beavers themselves. Several families of beavers live on our ponds here in the Berkshires, so this is a great chance to see beaver dams and lodges up close.
Forest Ecology - Students will learn what it takes for a tree to survive with hands-on exploration of basic concepts of ecology - individuals, populations, habitats, ecosystems. They will learn about trees themselves - how photosynthesis works, how trees survive. In our nature hikes into the backcountry, students will learn to identify species of the Central Berkshires, indicative of Northern Broadleaf Forests. They will learn about the layers of the forest and how forest composition impacts the animals found here.
Bog Ecology - Students will hike to our pristine peat bog to see first-hand the special conditions that define a bog. Students will also examine the water quality in the bog and look at plants and animals living in the bog.
Berkshire Wetlands Study - Combining features of our Pond Ecology and Bog Ecology classes, students will compare and contrast habitats, living conditions, plant and animal life in our ponds, swamps, marshes and bogs. By studying the differences between living conditions, students can draw conclusions about animals that live in these different ecosystems using first-hand experience.
Predator Prey - All things are interdependent in this come-to-life roleplay activity where students learn about food chains, predator-prey relationships and the web of life that connects all living things. This is a very active outdoor activity where students interact as predator or prey species. The concepts of bioaccumulation and the trophic pyramid are also discussed.
Night Experience - Students will learn about the ways in which the nocturnal world comes alive through games and experiments involving all of the senses. Sensory awareness, predator-prey relationships and the anatomy of animal eyes and ears are just some of the topics of discussion and activity on this night time excursion.
Zingers - Time management is crucial in this fast-paced, action-packed game. Students are divided into teams and travel from station to station, with each station consisting of a high energy task. Teamwork and fun are emphasized in this activity.
Outdoor Living Skills -Fire building, shelter building, and knots are all topics covered and practiced in Outdoor Living Skills. Students will get the chance to go out into the woods and try their hand at these skills while learning a bit of what it takes to get along in the wilderness as well as learning the basics of staying warm in winter and cool in summer.
Canoeing - Students will learn how to enter and exit a canoe safely, the basic paddle strokes and safe conduct in the boat. After an instructional session, students will put on their lifejackets then head out onto the pond to explore and practice their skills.
Archery - Students will learn the basic shooting technique along with range safety. Students can then pactice marksmanship and play games based on accuracy and technique.
Campfire - Of an evening, nothing could be more suitable than a beautiful campfire in one of our amphitheaters. Our talented staff can get the campfire off to a roaring start with stories, songs and skits that will entertain young and old alike. Camper and teacher skits and songs are also welcome and encouraged.
Orienteering - The Amazing Race - Students will learn to read a map, bearings and use a compass in this fun activity. This class will see students in pairs or triples navigate their way across a defined portion of our campus, finding specific clues and tasks, as well as obstacles set to slow them!
Cross Country Skiing - Students will learn to ski! Different from downhill skiing, cross-sountry skiing techniques and skills will be learned on our practice area before heading off through the snow-covered woods on our groomed trails. All students will ski in a group with our staff as a guide. Instructors will give guidance throughout the period, and help ensure a safe, fun ski experience. We will provide the skis, boots and poles for all participants (included in your price).
Snowshoeing - Students will learn to snowshoe - how to put them on and how to use them. Students will then head out on our snowshoeing trails to explore the forest in the winter. This magical wonderland will give the students opportunities to find evidence of winter residence using basicwinter tracking techniques. They will have an opportunity to appreciate the serenity of a forest in the midst of winter. This class may be combined with one of our ecology classes. We will provide the snowshoes (included in your price).
Tubing - A recreational activity. A fun way to break up the day - grab a tube and head down the hill. With our new lighted tubing hill, tubing can take place as an evening activity as well. Enjoy the tubing hill as a group or turn the tubing hill into an educational experience with our Tubing Physics class.
Ice Skating - A recreational activity. Our outdoor skating rink is perfect for skating, and when the lake is frozen, we can skate on that too! We have plenty of skates, but guests are welcome to bring their own too!
There are tons more activities, these are just some of the favorites!
Our instructors are the best asset to our programs. A diverse range of staff from a variety of countries return year after year to run our Outdoor Education programs. The extensive cultural diversity and interesting perspective each of them brings to our organization and to our guests is truly an exceptional contribution to the programs. And our seasoned veterans are the best staff in their field, passionate about living and working here in the Berkshires.