Traverse City Record-Eagle

Generation Why

July 6, 2010

Wilderness Studies is useful, fun, bonding

This is one class that teaches skills we need to know

We all live in northern Michigan and we all are about a 10-minute drive from nature. We all love our northern Michigan weather, most of the time, but the schools keep us inside.

I am a senior at Kingsley High School and also an avid hunter, fisherman and outdoorsman. I am part of the Wilderness Studies class at Kingsley High School, taught by Mr. (Boone) Scharp.

The class is based in experiential learning. I am a good student. I get good grades and all that, but I have learned so much over the past school year that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Mr. Scharp, the teacher of the wilderness class, is so passionate about the outdoors and has worked very hard to make this class available for the students of Kingsley.

We completed a unit on primitive fire-starting techniques. Our whole class was out in the parking lot trying to start a fire with a bow drill. We were all working hard trying to build a fire. All of a sudden, someone screamed, "I am not leaving until I start this fire!"

You never hear this during school; most kids get frustrated with an assignment and just give up.

The class also has many fun field trips. We have gone rock climbing in the Upper Peninsula, winter camping at Pigeon River, caving in Indiana and canoeing. During these trips, I have learned so much about my classmates and myself. I have gained so many new friends.

I understand that budget cuts have limited the elective classes that schools can offer, but this class teaches skills you will use for many years after and gets kids outside and having fun while learning. I strongly encourage students to talk to their teachers, school board and principal and see if your school can get a class like this one.

The wilderness is all around us. It is time we harness its teaching potential.

Dalen Dankert graduated from Kingsley High School this year.

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