Monday, December 22, 2014

Indoor Adventures with Venture Outdoors

When bad weather comes, it can challenge after school plans and require creative thinking. Our recent visit from Venture Outdoors faced such a challenge, and showed that adaptable activities can keep the rain from dampening your fun.

After a few icebreaker questions to bring the group together our visitors, Alex and Ben, introduced the game that the students and instructors were about to play. Called "Evolution", the rock-paper-scissors tournament action had our kids up and moving, looking for their next contest and their next chance to advance.

After energizing everybody, it was time for a change of pace. The next activity that our Venture Outdoors leaders set up was a critical thinking game in the style of Mastermind. Instead of matching a sequence of colors, however, we were challenged to match various pieces of litter with the time that each would take to decompose in nature.

The results were eye-opening! Some of the smallest and most common items found littering the environment can survive for centuries without breaking down. With some new information to think over, we began our last activity, "Toxic Sludge". This game, we were told, required crossing the room without stepping in the toxic sludge that was the carpet. The only refuge we had was the cardboard piece that we each got. Somehow, we would need to work together to get to the safety of the stage.

Our plan to pass pieces along the line were complicated by the rule that any cardboard would be lost to the sludge if nobody was touching it. Eventually we all made it, by communicating and coordinating, to make a path and not leave anyone or anything behind. Ben and Alex told us how our efforts in Toxic Sludge were like the planning and consideration needed when going out in nature. The students learned about the importance of Leave No Trace, and how to practice it.

The Venture Outdoors and the Brashear Association partnership is a pilot program to develop outdoor and nature focused lessons to educate youth and help them build life skills. The students at the ALEC after school program had a great time with the guys from Venture Outdoors and look forward to their next visit!


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