Since 1956, the Bryant Pond 4-H Camp and Learning Center (formerly the Maine Conservation School) has worked with thousands of students, teachers, and groups helping them explore and investigate our natural world. Our summer camp and Lakeside Classroom school programs offer a unique blend of inspired fun, practical outdoor skills, hands on experiential science, and team building/leadership activities which help form the foundations for a lifelong appreciation of the outdoors.
Steps Toward Personal Growth and Development of a Stewardship Ethic
The Bryant Pond 4-H Camp and Learning Center’s programs are designed to inspire stewardship of our environment by fostering a “sense of wonder” as well as an understanding of what it means to live sustainably on a planet with limited resources. As our students develop a relationship with the natural world and confidence in their outdoor skills, they take steps toward a lifelong stewardship ethic. Our curriculum, a unique blend of fun, conservation education, and instruction in outdoor skills, includes five essential steps toward personal growth and an ethic of stewardship:
1) TEAM BUILDING, LEADERSHIP, AND LIFE SKILLS
Students who participate in team building activities develop cooperative attitudes and appreciation for the differences of others. Students work together in small groups and face challenging activities as a unit, relying on each other to successfully complete activities and initiatives. Communication, conflict resolution, motivation, goal setting, and leadership development all build from team experiences. Whether on the low ropes course, building a group shelter to sleep in for the night, or working in pairs on the map and compass course, cooperation with one another becomes vital to a successful experience in our program.
2) OUTDOOR EDUCATION
Students who participate safely in outdoor activities associate nature with fun. Outdoor recreation also helps individuals connect with their own potential, and as a result, can boost self-esteem, self-reliance, and confidence. Kayaking, canoeing, orienteering, hiking, high ropes, fishing, archery, and other nature-based recreational activities lead to increased levels of comfort in outdoor settings, and ultimately a lifelong passion for healthy outdoor activities.
3) SENSORY DEVELOPMENT
Students who develop sensory awareness perceive the natural world as a living part of themselves, not as a separate commodity. We encourage students to expose their senses to the natural environment, to get their hands dirty, wade into streams, and hike through the woods day or night. Outdoor games and activities such as the string stalk, blindfolded walks, animal tracking, and fire making engage students directly with the natural world. The result is an awakening to the rich, complex, and interconnected nature of our world.
4) ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION AND SUSTAINABILITY
Our Lakeside Classroom experiential programs include environmental science, forestry, ecology, wildlife, mineralogy, outdoor sportsmanship, survival, and more. Lessons are designed to engage our students in building appreciation and a conservation ethic for our environment. Reflective learning and hands-on experiences engage students in understanding and applying sustainable life choices.
5) SELF-RELIANCE AND SERVICE LEARNING
Our program incorporates service learning as both a teaching and learning method. Self-reliance, goal setting, planning, engagement in service, and reflective learning develops as youth and adults partner to create community through school based projects.