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 73 students piled into buses and travelled the forty minutes to Raymond to celebrate the start of a new school experience and build a strong learning community for the year ahead.
Next week the 7th and 8th grade cohort will make a day trip to the Common Ground Fair in Unity. Also making the trip, and staying overnight, will be Sari Lindauer's CGF Breakwater Creators! Sari helped found the Fair's "Youth Enterprise Zone" years ago where young entrepreneurs create products that combine their exuberant creativity with the bounty of nature- be it metal, fiber, wood, glass, plants or food. Each year Sari's students make, sell, and experience commerce while developing skills of independence and resilience brought by the overnight adventure.
Breakwater prioritizes outside-of-the-classroom learning experiences. We strive to kick the standard 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. Many students take risks they might not otherwise take at home and prove to themselves just what they’re capable of. Whether that means braving the walk to a cabin at night, playing with a friend they may not yet know well, getting up at 5am for a sunrise hike, asking for help from faculty members when needed, or sharing their ideas and feelings in group conversation, they often push themselves and recognize their accomplishment. This discovery of self-reliance and fortitude serves children well across the social/emotional plane and academics equally.
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 is a lot of fun on Breakwater field trips!
A sincere and heartfelt thank you to Breakwater Board of Trustee member Erik Calhoun for so generously offering Camp Agawam for our annual trip year after year.