Letters to the Editor

Outdoor ed would be sorely missed

A recent budget proposal by the Federal Way school district eliminates the residential outdoor education program for fifth-graders. I have been affiliated with this program, both at Camp Waskowitz and at Camp Thunderbird, since 1979. I took my fifth- and sixth-graders to camp as a teacher for 18 years, and for the last six years I have been the selector coordinator for the high schools that send students to the program as student counselors. I visit each of the high schools at least once a week. It is a rarity when I am not reminded by students, teachers and other school employees of the benefits of outdoor education.

Recently, a high school teacher told me that the camp counselor position for some of her students provided an opportunity in leadership that they weren’t getting anywhere else. Another stated that a high school student finally began to reach his potential after a week of camp.

Many college students have told me that they were motivated to choose education as a career because of their experience as a high school counselor.

When I was teaching, many parents told me that they were astounded by their child’s new awareness of the environment and their role in conservation following their week at camp. They were very impressed by the full week of science related experiences on-site in the environment. Many others praised the positive role-modeling provided by the high school students.

I wonder if the citizens of Federal Way really realize how many opportunities their children will be missing if the outdoor education program is eliminated.

Steve Aaby


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