Bailey Intermediate fifth graders spent the first three days of this week at an outdoor learning camp, Allaso Ranch Outdoor University, in Hawkins, Texas. Allaso Ranch, located in the beautiful piney woods of East Texas near the Dallas/Fort Worth area, teaches an educational and creative curriculum specifically designed to address TEKS and STAAR elements required by the state of Texas.
Students found that the energetic and knowledgeable staff made learning fun. The classes available at Outdoor University include: ‘Forest Guardians’ that teaches about the layers of soil; ‘American Explorers’ where students made candles and used a two-man saw; ‘Orienteering’ that teaches how to use a compass and follow clues to a treasure; ‘Flight School’ where students learned the dynamics of flying by bird watching then creating planes to fly; ‘Superhero Search-Entomology’ where students learned about insects then filled terrariums with bugs they gathered; ‘Texas Trails’ where they learned about structures and functions and went trail riding on horseback; ‘Outback Expedition’ that focused on teamwork skills; ‘Aquatic Investigations’ where students captured “spy bugs” for NASA by sifting through mud from the lake to find hidden creatures; and ‘Gravity Games’ that included lessons on force using zip lines, kayaks and canoes, water slides, and the like.
“My favorite part of Allaso Ranch was zip lining,” said Haley Bryan.
Agreeing with Haley, Jenny Friesen added that she also enjoyed horseback riding.
“Probably the aquatics were my favorite,” said Alee Andrews. “No, it was making candles and sawing,” she quickly said changing her mind as Natasha Whipkey agreed.
Still, others said canoeing and swimming were on top of their list. A few others said eating and sleeping ranked high which indicates the accommodations met the approval of fifth graders.
“We loved our time at Allaso Ranch this year,” said fifth-grade math and science teacher Dustin Morris. “The kids smiled from the time that they got there, to the time that they left, and I have never seen a camp successfully incorporate learning so effectively. “City kids” got to get their hands dirty, and the “country kids” got to show off their skills. Our chaperones were amazing and completely left their comfort zones for the sake of the children’s experience. Points were awarded for various contests, tasks, and good manners in general throughout the stay, which kept the kids engaged and excited. The after-dinner Mystery Theater had the parents and teachers acting like fools, which of course had the kids rolling with laughter. Everyone left exhausted, but would have stayed longer if they would have let us.”