Each September Breakwater’s middle school students travel to Camp Agawam on our annual overnight. 7th and 8th graders spend two nights at the camp, and are joined on the second night by the 5th and 6th grades. This year twenty-nine 7th and 8th graders and thirty-five 5th and 6th graders piled into buses and travelled the forty minutes to Raymond. Yes, that’s sixty-four middle schoolers. Sixty-four! fun, funny, full of life children celebrating the start of a new school experience and building a strong learning community for the year ahead.
Breakwater prioritizes outside-of-the-classroom learning experiences. We strive to kick the field trip up a notch, offering developmentally appropriate opportunities for children to stretch outside of their comfort zones and discover inner resources they may not have known they had.
Field trips, particularly overnight experiences where children may be far from familiar routines, offer opportunities to develop healthy independence. At Camp Agawam, many students took risks they might not otherwise take at home and proved to themselves just what they’re capable of. Whether that meant braving the walk to the cabin at night, playing with a friend they may not yet know well, getting up at 5am for a sunrise hike, or sharing their ideas and feelings in group conversation, they pushed themselves and recognized it.
Relationships built in this environment take on depth that comes from a particularly authentic and memorable shared experience. This is true between peers, and in building a foundation of trust and mutual regard between teachers and students. In addition to shared challenges, fun play is a natural mechanism with which to encourage these connections, and there was a lot of fun at Agawam! Children swam, hiked, played cards, swapped stories, ran from sneaky teachers' dodge balls, and then avenged themselves with water balloons! The community made each other meals and worked together to clean up afterwards - all while smiling and dancing.
A sincere and heartfelt thank you to Breakwater parent Erik Calhoun for so generously offering Camp Agawam for our annual trip year after year.