Learning Through Meaningful Experience

“We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole. In my children's memories, the adventures we've had together in nature will always exist.” 
- Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

Experiential learning integrates the classroom and the real world. Our programs optimize student engagement through immersion, helping children feel the learning experience is truly theirs to own. This kind of learning is probably what Benjamin Franklin had in mind when he wrote, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I will learn.” Breakwater’s overnight field trips, a yearly opportunity provided to students in grades 3 to 8, provide children with deep, meaningful experiences with the outside world and their peers, as well as invaluable information about themselves.

Recently, our third and fourth grade students took an overnight trip to Joe Dodge Lodge in the White Mountain National Forest. Krys, one of our 3/4 teaching team, explains:

“At Breakwater, we strive to inspire children to live well on the planet and in 3/4, we carried this mission in our hearts and minds on a recent trip to the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  

There is something indescribably magical and transformative that happens when students step beyond their comfort zones and dive into an adventure in a new setting away from school and home. 

Experiential learning in the outdoors has a profound way of strengthening classroom community due to the inherent element of trust required. During our trip to Joe Dodge Lodge, teachers and students layered up and trekked for hours in the snow. Students observed the world around them, persevered, overcame fears and immersed themselves in the unsurpassed beauty of the mountains. That is exactly what this kind of trip is all about and it's why we at Breakwater carefully create experiences like this for our students. 

At the Joe Dodge Lodge, we shared a huge family style dinner while laughing and passing food around to one another. In the peaceful moments before bedtime we snuggled up in our pajamas to share read alouds and mindfulness practice around a warm fire. These are moments that connect us on a far deeper level than learning in the classroom alone. 

In our integrated studies unit of the National Parks, students are discovering the importance of preservation, conservation and being conscious stewards of the earth, and were able to live and breathe this experience together in the White Mountains.”