Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. ~John Muir
Outdoor Education is an important part of every day at Running River. We spend more time outside playing, working, living and learning than any other K-8 school in Boulder County. The children are outside every day for a minimum of 45 minutes playing games, gardening, taking care of the chickens and tending the compost. Our science and theme curriculums integrate outdoor learning. We hike every week, the K-1 class twice a week. To us, outdoor education is learning about and connecting with nature.
To read more about our outdoor nature program go to Teaching Through Nature.
Transportation and Field Trip Arrangements
When you sign your contract there is a field trip form for you to sign which gives permission for your child to leave Running River grounds. The field trip form that parents sign with the contract include all field trips taken. In addition to hiking, swimming and trips to the park, there will be special trips to places such as zoos, museums, libraries, etc. These trips are arranged directly with the parents in advance so that parents can attend.
At Running River, we spend a lot of time in the field hiking. In order to prevent injuries, we conduct safety briefings to orient students to new environments. In addition to stressing the importance of beign aware of hazards, we elicit ideas and rules from students in order to create a lifelong ability to assess danger and avoid unnecessary risk.
We use safety briefings any time we enter a new environment, such as walking on a trail vs. walking on a bike path, or playing in a forest vs. playing near a river. In the risk management model we use, we define Environmental hazards and Human Hazards. Then, we create rules to separate the two in order to avoid incidents. Here is an example of an environmental briefing. This particular briefing might take place before playing in the foothills.
We gather all the children in a circle, make sure they are all listening by expecting complete quiet and asking for all eyes and all ears on us. We WAIT until this happens, asking children who aren’t doing this to please do, or move them next to a teacher to make it easier.
Then we ask the children to look around at the environment. What do they see that could cause injury? They answer. Then, what rules to do they need to follow to stay safe? Which of these rules are to protect us from the environment? Which hazards could cause injury from mistakes (human error)? What could people use to help them avoid problems? They answer until we feel like we have all the rules laid out clearly. Examples of these rules:
- Staying always in sight of a teacher/adult
- Not going off the trail during the hike
- No running with sticks
- No throwing anything from a high place
- In winter no going in the water
- If water is fast, there might be no going near the water
- And of course, the favorite rule: No kissing coyotes!
We have a Hiking Manual for staff and volunteer parents who come on the hikes that covers all aspects of our hiking program.