Mt. Cardigan: 5th Grade's Three Day Adventure

A video of the 2017 Mt. Cardigan experience - created by Tom Fisher, 5/6 Teacher.

Breakwater’s 5th graders completed a three day adventure to Mt. Cardigan in New Hampshire (February 15-17). In addition to shorter hikes and activities, students woke early to make an attempt on the bare windy summit, a group effort which includes hours of hiking on mountain terrain, with students returning to the Appalachian Mountain Club base lodge at the end of a long, exhilarating day. The challenge provides not only an opportunity for individual accomplishment, but the sense of pride and reward that comes with navigating difficulty as a group - dependent on one another for support, encouragement and camaraderie. 

The trip to Mt. Cardigan is one in a series of overnight trips that in recent years have begun in third grade. Breakwater prioritizes outside-of-the-classroom learning experiences. Field trips, particularly overnight experiences where children may be far from familiar routines, help children to develop healthy independence, self-identify strengths and inner resources, and builds important bonds within their peer community. 

Grade 5 initiates students into their Middle School experience at Breakwater. The Mt. Cardigan trip precedes a Grade 6 outdoor "survival" trip into western Maine, a Grade 7 overnight to Mount Desert Island to explore our state's only national park, and in Grade 8 our students participate in a week of international travel in Costa Rica. Our trips during the previous grade levels have ultimately prepared children for this adventure. It is the longest and the most extraordinary, including activities such as horseback riding, zip-lining through the canopy of the rainforest, day and night hikes into the forest, service work with biologists that supports the ecosystem, and much, much more.

The goals of Breakwater’s outdoor, overnight programming are both immediate and far-reaching, including team-building, improving group-process and conflict resolution skills, developing self-confidence, environmental awareness, resilience, empathy and sense of place in the world. And, of course: to have an incredible amount of fun!