by Jon Dalrymple
Hayden Lake, Idaho, May 20, 2010 -
Every year, hundreds of kids ditch the classroom in Upper Columbia Conference (UCC) schools to get a different kind of education at Camp MiVoden. Their teachers are happy for them to attend this unique week long learning experience that the conference has provided for the last 12 years.
Outdoor School is more than just a fun week for kids. Sandy Mason, the coordinator of the UCC program says, "Nature is God's second book, and you can't experience nature in a classroom. We teach the kids important skills that you learn the best outdoors."
Each year, schools around the conference are invited to bring students to Camp MiVoden for a week of outdoor training. Subjects include things like camp cooking, fire building, orienteering, outdoor survival, boating safety, and a number of other outdoor skills.
"I love outdoor school, it's awesome," says Amalia, a student from, Idaho, who has attended for three years in a row. "I just learned yesterday that three blasts on a whistle or horn is a signal for help. That could be really important to know when you go camping or if you get stranded someplace."
In addition to skills training, there are many opportunities for students to develop their leadership and teamwork abilities. Whether they are completing a rope obstacle course, or building a model rocket, students learn to work together and accomplish things they never thought possible.
"I've had kids come up to me after climbing the ropes course and say, 'I didn't know I could do that." says Mason.
"The most important part of outdoor school is the spiritual aspect," says Mike Labert, pastor of the Stateline Adventist Church. "Working with kid's in God's creation helps point them to Christ. Out of all the programs we have for kids in the Upper Columbia Conference, outdoor school is the best thing going."
"I get really excited about outdoor school," says Kenny Campbell, who has served as the pastor at outdoor school for the last six years. "My job is primarily to hold morning and evening worship. But I love spending time with them during the day too and getting to know them better each year. It is a thrill to see them grow up learning to love Jesus."
"I'd definitely rather be here than at school," says Amalia, "because not only to do you get to meet people from other schools and make new friends, but I think being here gets you closer to God."