Blue Ridge takes on Camp Cullom

Students from Blue Ridge Primary School explored the grounds of Camp Cullom on Friday to learn about nature, form a tight-knit community within their classrooms and gain new experiences outside of the classroom.

Students investigate worms from the creek through microscopes.

During the field trip, Camp Cullom welcomed 400 students and Blue Ridge faculty members to the campgrounds to explore various activities, including a s’mores and campfire song station, a hayride station, a physical education station, a wildlife station and a creeklife station. Abby Allen, P.E. teacher and field trip organizer, stated that one of the main goals of the field trip was to introduce the students to nature in a way that they may never have explored before in Clinton County.

“They are getting to see nature,” Allen said. “They are doing some stations with some physical activity like relay races and obstacle courses, and they’re also getting to do some nature stations like a hayride, and they’re going down to the creek.”

Allen stated that multiple learning opportunities were available to the students during the field trip, including two stations that allowed students to explore different wildlife from the wooded areas of Camp Cullom as well as the creek that runs through the property. At the creekside station, students were fascinated by the crawfish that had been fished from the creek earlier in the morning and was swimming inside a bucket.

Students participate in a sack race at the P.E. station.

“We have a local DNR officer here talking to the kids,” Allen said. “We have someone at the nature center showing them some different animals and taxidermy that are around Camp Cullom.”

Allen commented that the stations were constructed and arranged to provide the students with an expansive dive into real-world applications of science, mathematics and physical education. Allen included that the students were excelling at the physical aspects of the stations, including the trek from the main area down a steep hill toward the creekside station.

“We have to tie some Indiana state standards to any field trip that we go to,” Allen said. “We tied some science standards and even some math standards probably with some of the things that we are doing along with some P.E. standards.”

Allen stated that the learning opportunities expanded beyond the typical subject areas taught within the Blue Ridge walls, and she shared that the students were taking advantage of the opportunity to build stronger relationships with their classmates as well as students from other classrooms within their grade.

Students guess the name of the crawfish caught from the creek. Many students thought it was a scorpion!

“They are partnered together, so there are two kindergarten classrooms together or two first grade or two second grade classrooms together,” Allen said. “They’re building community with each other with another class all day as they go from station to station.”

Overall, Allen stated that exposing the students to playful and educational opportunities within nature was one of the most important aspects of the field trip as it allowed for the students to stray from a day of indoor activities and technology to appreciate the world around them.

“In my opinion, the coolest thing is they’re getting to just get out and about and play outside,” Allen said. “I feel like these days, kids are inside, and they’re on technology and devices, and they don’t go outside and play as much as I think they should. This is a full day outside enjoying nature.”

The Friday iteration of the field trip was the second year that the Blue Ridge students have explored Camp Cullom, and Allen stated that the experience has been successful both years. Allen continued to state that the use of the Camp Cullom grounds allows for the staff to continue innovating the stations and future field trips due to the low cost of the field trip, which Allen stated only included payments for the buses.

Students prepare for a hayride with Camp Ranger Hoppy Bray.

“Camp Cullom is kind of a hidden gem here in Clinton County that a lot of people don’t even know about, and our kids don’t get these experiences out in the wilderness and with a campfire, and so some teachers have been here before, and we came up with the idea to bring our whole school out here,” Allen said. “We did it last year, and it was so fun that we did it this year.”

Two students, Wyatt Wright and Bailey Poole, expressed that the varying stations provided different enjoyment opportunities for every student, and one of their favorite experiences at Camp Cullom was the lunch period where they socialized with friends and talked about the various activities they enjoyed throughout the day. The students also took time out of the day for recess to explore the playground at Camp Cullom where the classes played on the swings, partook in different sports activities and socialized.

Students play on the Camp Cullom playground for recess.

“Probably I would say lunch,” Wright said. “Lunch is mine. I like to do recess too.”

Poole echoed Wright, continuing to state that the creekside station where students were educated on living beings within the creek was her favorite aside from the lunch period.

“I really liked to go see the ocean part,” Poole said. “There was like red worms, those bugs that go on the water, red worms (and) clams.”

Poole expressed that the day has become many of the students’ favorite day of the school year, and she expressed that she was glad to spend the day with her best friend, Wright.

“This is probably our favorite day of the year,” Poole said.

Listen to the interview with Wyatt Wright, Bailey Poole and Abby Allen below:

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