SPS 6th Grade Annual Excursion To Camp Pendalouan Combines Learning, Fun & Friends
For three decades, sixth grade students from Saugatuck Middle School have participated in the sixth grade camp at Camp Pendalouan for three days each fall.
This camp, located on Big Blue Lake near Montague, Michigan, offers students the opportunity to disconnect from their phones and connect with their peers amidst nature.
After they arrive and get settled in their cabins, students are divided into four groups that rotate between the high ropes course, the challenge course, orienteering, and outdoor survival.
In addition to these main activities, students also have some free time during the day for other activities such as boating and, the crowd favorite, gaga ball. Evening activities include capture the flag, a bonfire, square dancing and night hikes.
Mrs. Hankins, the sixth-grade science teacher, has been accompanying classes to camp for 11 years now.
When asked about any noticeable changes with past groups, she responded that while the camp set up has stayed continuous, each grade has its own personality.
The teachers work with the Camp Pendalouan staff to create activities that will challenge the students.
One of the purposes of sixth grade camp is to offer these students the opportunity to get to know their peers.
Although students may choose a couple of friends as cabin mates, they are also placed with other students with whom they are not as familiar.
The activities are meant to push students outside of their comfort zone—a crucial attribute that they need in the future.
When asked what the most challenging part of camp is, Mrs. Hankins stated it was being away from home.
“Being away from home and their family allows them to put trust in their peers as well as their counselors,” she said.
The select group of high school counselors that stay in the cabins with the students serve as mentors for the sixth graders.
Two students who participated in sixth grade camp this year, Maya Veldt and Landon Miller, proved that camp this year was a success.
To Landon, the best part of camp was “having fun in the cabin with friends” and building a fire with his team during the survival challenge.
Both Maya and Landon agreed that they took the opportunity to make new friends as well.
The only thing Maya would improve about camp was “allowing more time for each activity.”
According to Mrs. Hankins, the lessons learned at sixth grade camp are referred to throughout the year.
The biggest takeaway that these students had from camp was how to work with others.
“You can’t accomplish anything unless you work together,” noted Maya.