Written by Sofie Dobberfuhl, Co-Editor in Chief
As a senior, I can reflect upon the ups and downs of high school; the classes I hated and loved, the friends and memories that I’ve made during my years at Forest Grove High School. I’ve taken at least one AP class every single year for 4 years, participated in fall and spring sports, been a member of countless clubs, and had the chance to be a part of Viking House which is, in my very biased opinion, the best program that the high school has to offer. But no class, sport, or club can ever compete with the experience of Outdoor School. It has challenged me to grow in so many ways, has given me so much empathy and compassion for people, and ultimately has defined who I want to be in the world.
I often find it difficult to describe just how valuable this program has been to me; how it is more than simply a week of missed school. When I am asked why I continue to return time and time again, I could list hundreds of reasons; hiking, meeting new people, seeing the ocean, singing, teaching plants, being a positive role model, the coffee and tea bar, really good food every day, a community and family, etc. However the reason I absolutely love outdoor school and have returned so many times is for the children. We’ve all been an 11 or 12 year old at some point in our lives, and it’s a scary time. You’re becoming a young adult but you’re not quite there yet, and the transition to becoming a teenager can be very hard for everyone. Every single kid I’ve had the privilege to interact with at outdoor school has taught me so much, and not just about myself but the world around me.
When you sit in a classroom, you read an article, watch a Ted talk, and learn abstract concepts that you’ll never see the physical embodiment of. At outdoor school, your classroom is a forest, or a riverbank, or the Pacific coast. You can interact with everything that you learn about, from flowers to soil layers to sedimentary rocks to live snakes and insects. This is an incredible moment for students who may struggle in a traditional classroom, because everything is a hands-on experience and they realize that they are more capable than they might have previously thought.
At the end of the day, I feel that I can be so much more at outdoor school than at high school or anywhere else; a leader, a mentor, a teacher, a friend, a student, a child, and a human being interacting in a unique way with other humans all at the same time. I can shed my protective layers and get to know people, and be unashamedly myself. Plus, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had in high school doing anything, ever. I truly believe that outdoor school is a life changing experience for everyone it affects, and I implore all other high schoolers to at least look into the possibility of going for one week.