Whether you’re enjoying fresh air in your front yard or taking in nature atop Mount Tolmie, it’s important to continue to get outside. That’s why our Middle School and our outdoor education team have launched a weekly outdoor challenge to encourage students of all ages to spend mindful time in nature.
“I find that if I don’t have some time immersed in nature, I am less effective during my day,” says Mr. Zyoji Jackson, Middle School outdoor education coordinator, who launched the optional challenge last week during assembly. “I figure that most people, even if they’re not outdoor enthusiasts, find being outdoors can help reduce their stress and increase their well-being. So, I wanted to create a fun way to get students and families outside.”
The first outdoor challenge, themed around balance, encouraged students to spend time stacking rocks (or something similar) to see how many items they could balance (and whether they could stack more than Mr. Jackson). The second challenge is themed around service and encourages students and families to find a way to safely remove invasive flora while respecting the natural environment.
“Your challenge is to come up to Mount Tolmie or another place that has Garry oaks and we’re going to pull Scotch broom. These things have incredible taproots, they’re very resilient; even after you clear a whole hillside, the seeds that are underground are going to result in lots of baby scotch broom,” Zyoji says in the challenge video, which Middle School students can watch in the Middle School Community Google Classroom. “Come walking on the north side of Mouth Tolmie, stay on the little trails, try not to disturb the big patches of moss or the delicate camas lilies, and pull some broom!”
The benefits of participating in the activity, beyond the satisfaction of conquering a challenge, align perfectly with our outdoor education program.
“A big part of outdoor education is learning to appreciate nature for the first time or deepening your appreciation, comfort and closeness with nature,” Zyoji says. “My hope is that these become activities families do together and they start to build more outdoor time into their family culture.”
He also hopes students will come up with their own creative outdoor challenges and will want to challenge their schoolmates and teachers to try something new outside.
“This is really about getting people out of their houses, feeling the wind in their hair, getting sprinkled by a bit of rain and interacting with nature.”