At the Orenda Springs Experiential Learning Center in Marcellus, even a short trailside hike becomes an experience in learning.
Fifth grade students from Driver Middle School had the opportunity to experience the "challenge" of Orenda Springs as they participated in the team building/life skills field trip training activities throughout the months of September and October. Students from Sandy Carey's class took the challenge of Orenda Springs on September 16, 2009. John Powers, Executive Director at Orenda Springs welcomed the group by having each participant select a positive attribute about themselves beginning with the first letter of their own name. Among the names selected were Curious Colleen, Kinetic Karen, Spectacular Saige, Mathematic Matt, Generous Jacob, Rebel Ryan, Dynamic Drake, and Kind Kayla. Powers then paired up students prior to moving them to the forest worksites. As they walked to the learning site, each pair of students, and staff, interviewed each other to discover "life skills that they are good at" and "life skills that need improvement". Students and staff then introduced each other by sharing each participant's life skill attributes and needs.
Powers, along with Orenda Springs assistants Mary Moran and Patrick Collier queried students as to "why did we do this activity?" after each team building challenge. Students also had the opportunity to identify the necessary "life skills for success" as they completed each challenge. The full day experience took fifth grade classes through a variety of team building challenges where success depended on cooperative problem solving. Life skills identified through the process included leadership, team work, commitment, kindness, honesty, perseverance, respect, courage, cooperation, sense of humor, empathy, persistence and friendship. The highlight of the Orenda Springs experience was the high ropes challenge. Among the activities included here were the flying squirrel and the zip line. The "flying squirrel" challenge had students, and staff members, souring more than 50 feet into the air as classmates pulled the rope to let them "fly."