Changing Lives through Challenge and Discovery: The 8th Grade Class Trip Recap with Ms. Carlson
Katelyn Carlson, Middle School Faculty

This year, the eighth-grade class had the opportunity to return to a longstanding grade-level experiential learning trip with Outward Bound. With a little apprehension, we collectively held our breath as we pulled into the Frenchman Coulee campsite—no running water, no tents, and only two pit toilets to be seen. But, we were immediately welcomed by the competent, kind, fantastic Outward Bound instructors. As students organized their gear under tarps, they were soon fitted for helmets and harnesses for our first day of rock climbing and rappelling.

The mission of Outward Bound is to “change lives through challenge and discovery.” So rather than engage in lessons about rock formations or resilience, students learned hands-on how to responsibly belay one another and stretch themselves to new heights—quite literally. While the instructors stood close by to provide directions, the students themselves were the ones in charge. They relied on effective communication strategies and encouraged each other to try new approaches. “You got this!” could be heard echoing throughout the canyon.


Students also participated in various hikes in the area, and some adventured to the top of a sand dune. Crawling up the hillside, you could hear students say, “I can’t do this,” and surprise themselves with a “Just did it!” As we reflected on our day, several students shared their new understanding of “Type 2 Fun.” While it may not be exactly fun or easy in the moment, it is the feeling of accomplishment that we remember and are grateful for.

We ate simple meals and commented on how mayonnaise and turkey sandwiches can taste so much better than at home. In the evenings, students bundled up to enjoy some epic star gazing, had a Taylor Swift singalong, and performed iconic skits. We discovered that sometimes having less, might actually be more.

On the bus ride back to campus, students delighted in their time together and some even shed tears, sad that their trip was over. Without the distractions of school extracurriculars and social media, students were able to make authentic connections that brought them together in new ways. They helped each other overcome challenges and discovered their own ability to do hard things. And, they LOVED it!

Ms. Katelynn Carlson, Middle School Teacher