BG fifth graders take learning from classroom to camp

Students work as a team to build a structure.


BG Independent News


For one week, the fifth graders left behind their classrooms, their parents, their cell phones. But they found nature, social skills and how to learn without being tied to technology.

The fifth grade teachers and principal from Crim Elementary School talked with the Bowling Green Board of Education Tuesday about the experiences of the nearly 250 fifth graders who traveled to Heartland Outdoor School last month.

The best explanations perhaps came from the students themselves, who wrote letters to people in the community who helped pay for the week-long learning adventure.

“I learned that fear was just a word,” one student wrote after reaching the peak of the rock wall.

Another student talked about the different environments they observed and the different types of rocks they studied. “We learned so much, I could fill the whole page,” the child wrote.

And another told of learning how to tell the difference between healthy and unhealthy streams, how to shoot arrows, make candles and throw a tomahawk.

Not typical classroom lesson plans.

Fifth graders make candles at annual camp.

This was the first year of camp for Crim’s new principal Alyssa Karaffa.

“It was a great experience,” she said. And for the teachers who return year after year, “they are absolutely saints,” Karaffa added.

Science and social studies teacher Tyler Nye said it’s easy for him to explain when people ask why the students go to a week of camp every year. Where else can they have hands-on learning about crawdads in the creek, food chains, and adaptation of animals.

“In my opinion, it’s the best way to learn,” Nye said.

And where better to learn about the skills that settlers needed to survive in Ohio, from camp staff who re-enact those roles.

“They get to learn what life was like before cell phones and I-pads,” Nye said.

On the bus ride back to Bowling Green at the end of camp, one student exclaimed, “I survived the whole week without technology,” teacher Brenda Haynes said. “They were so proud.”

And they also learned about working as a team to accomplish tasks. That lesson can be difficult for students who are accustomed to working by themselves, depending on technology instead of other humans.

“We’re not all made the same,” teacher Amy Kenyon said of the valuable lesson learned.

“It changes them for the better when they come back to school,” Karaffa said. “It’s a great bonding experience.”

Fifth graders work as team to get through test.

In other business at Tuesday’s board of education meeting, Superintendent Francis Scruci addressed the district’s report card from the state.

“Are we where we want to be, absolutely not,” he said. But Bowling Green scored A in the value-added and graduation categories, which are very important, Scruci added.

He referred to the state report cards as a “flawed system,” with the vast majority of schools getting failing grades.

“This does not mean we’re overlooking poor scores. We’re not,” he said.

Also at the meeting, BG Swim Club Head Coach Carolyn Strunk asked the board to consider the possibility of making an indoor pool part of the district’s future building project. A pool could be a new source of revenue for the district, an asset to the community, and a benefit for families.

The swim club currently pays BGSU about $50,000 a year for using its pool, and could shift that funding to the school district, Strunk said.

Also at the meeting:

  • Scruci said construction of the middle school addition is in its second week.
  • Scruci reminded those present about Crim Elementary celebrating its 60th birthday on Friday at 1:30 p.m.
  • Trips were approved for student groups, with some FFA students attending a national leadership convention in Indianapolis, drama students and others traveling to Italy in 2018, the Spanish Club going to Spain in 2018, and the boys soccer team going to Chicago.