RIDGEFIELD — For more than 50 years, the Ridgefield School District took fifth-graders to Cispus Outdoor School until COVID-19 restrictions put camp on hold three years ago. This made it especially exciting for this year’s fifth-graders to be the first group to return to Cispus.
At Cispus, students do all of their learning outdoors, rain or shine. They enjoy hands-on activities like soil and water sampling, plant identification and nature art. They learn how to build survival shelters, practice manners at family-style dinners, and keep their cabins and dining room clean. Learning is an all-day activity at Cispus.
Supervised groups of students explore the campgrounds, trails, and forest, learning about the ecosystems, resources, and wildlife of the Pacific Northwest.
Teachers and students are assisted by dozens of camp counselors, some of whom are high school students who likely attended Cispus. There are also community volunteers who take charge of all kinds of activities, from guiding hikes to teaching survival training. Many of the volunteers have participated for years, even scheduling vacation time from work so they can spend a week at camp.
Principal Todd Graves was grateful to see so many students back at Cispus Outdoor School, the largest number of students yet. “It speaks to how important Cispus is to our community, that we had over 270 kids attend this year,” he said. “Cispus is a system that really expands our kids’ learning in a way you just can’t find anywhere else.”
Fifth-grade teachers Amanda Burgess and Annie Pintler help plan Cispus each year, and they were equally grateful to see students return to camp after the long break. “For all of us, it was really good to be back,” Burgess said. “The kids and counselors did so well. It was a super triumphant return!”