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Towering achievement: Outdoor Education camps touch schools

By Mark Cutshall

He was one frustrated, angry fifth-grade boy. Frustrated by looking up at the top of a climbing tower he knew he could never reach. And angry with his teacher, Marcie Trudeau, who wanted the best for him and was willing to say, “You know our class motto, Jeremy. You can at least give it a try. You never know what you can accomplish.”

And so grudgingly, Jeremy strapped in to the harness, swallowed hard, and with 27 curious classmates from Issaquah’s Cascade Ridge Elementary School looking on, he planted his boot on the wall and held on.

Marcie stood by – and watched. This was the school’s eighth annual Outdoor Education camp at Warm Beach and, by all accounts, it had become an unqualified success. “This three-day environmental education camp is part of our science curriculum and gives our students an appreciation and a link to nature and what their role can and should be in becoming future stewards of the earth. It’s a marvelous opportunity for social growth, and, of course, the kids come away with incredible memories of great times together.”

Cascade Ridge is one of 30 public and private schools and organizations that will partner with Warm Beach Camp this year and take advantage of the Camp’s geography as a natural, outdoor classroom. Camp experiences can range from daylong opportunities to overnight camps tailored to each school’s needs and goals.

“If you’re looking for a facility for students to experience and learn about their natural environment, you just can’t find a better place than Warm Beach,” said Marcie.

Last year at camp, Marcie looked up and saw blue skies, tall trees and, yes, that 40-foot climbing tower where Jeremy stood secure. He had taken but three steps, but by now, all of his classmates were fully engulfed with cheers and shouts.

And so he kept climbing. With each new step, the words “Yes! . . . Go! . . . You’re doing it!” followed him up the wall. Another reach up, another foot closer. Breathing. Stopping. Until, finally, incredibly, he could go no farther. Because he was at the top.

“I have never seen a kid so moved to achieve something he never thought he could do. I could not have been more proud of my students that day, especially this boy,” says Marcie, who watched his descent with tears in her eyes.

Amazed, excited and crying themselves, each of Jeremy’s classmates converged to hug and congratulate him.

A Kodak moment of affirmation, a picture of shared fulfillment and a class act of cooperation played out in a natural learning environment.

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