Adventures in Teton Teaching: Summer Edition

Where does the adventure come from in summer field education? In the winter, whether teaching cross-country skiing, winter tracking, or snow science, each frozen field day promises adventure; self-care, winter travel, and adverse conditions are integral parts of Teton Science Schools winter field education. But where does the excitement and adventure come into our summer curriculum, when the conditions are sunny and the students’ brains are in summer mode? These instructor, student, and parent reflections on highlights of summer day camps at TSS show how our talented instructors create adventure for their students every day. Enjoy!

Nature Art: A week for our Kindergarteners to explore self-expression with natural materials.

From our Instructors, Naomi and Katie:

  • The students were excited about exploring and observing nature through magnifying lenses.
  • Short nature scavenger hunts were successful challenges.
  • Students loved narrating stories through their paintings.

Grossology: A week of identifying and interpreting thoroughly gross animals, fungi, and humans.

From our Instructors, Evan and Tanya:

  • The students had a lot of fun identifying scat while exploring their surroundings. They also loved learning about composting and recycling at the recycling center.
  • Students were excited to identify macroinvertebrates and to play in the stream.
  • Students were very engaged in the exploratory activities, learning and practicing making scientific statements such as “I notice…” “I wonder…” and “It reminds me of…”

From the parents:

  • Everyday seemed like a full educational day.
  • Playing camouflage was the kids’ favorite part of the week.

Summer Safari: A week of exploring diverse habitats and animals, large and small, in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

From our Instructors, Rebecca, Colin, Charlie, and Monika:

  • The semi-structured exploration of a riparian zone for animal signs went really well.
  • We managed to keep student morale high, even though the hike was long. Students had fun splashing water on their heads at the lake.
  • Students loved seeing animals in the field and making watercolor art.

From the students:

  • “Are we going to keep complaining or are we going to keep hiking?”
  • Our favorite parts of the week were making friends, touching fish, seeing animals, field trips, and playing games.

From the parents:

  • Our children thought the instructors were fun and kind.
  • Every day, my child came home excited with what they did and learned.

Kid vs. Wild: A week of exploring human and animal survival strategies and imagining the adventures and struggles of Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem travelers, from early settlers to modern backpackers.

From our Instructors, Kyle, Lauren, and Rudi:

  • In true summertime Jackson fashion, the hike was going really well before it started thundering and raining. Talk about weather challenges to survival!
  • The students loved learning about American Indians and early European settlers at the historical museum and had tons of fun making necklaces and eating bison stew.
  • Making water filters out of charcoal, cloth, and plastic bags was a fun, hands-on activity.

From the students:

  • Favorite parts of the week were building forts, playing camouflage, and eating s’mores on “Fire Friday.”

Forces of Nature: A week of 3rd and 4th graders observing and exploring – both up close and far away – the fire, ice, and geology that shaped our valley.

From our Instructors, Laine and Caitlin:

  • We used our observation and Science Circle Investigation skills to identify and understand the three rock types – igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary.
  • We made observations about Mt. Moran and the geology that we could see from the trail, aiming to answer the question, “how were the Tetons formed?”

From the parents:

  • [My child] cried after the Friday celebration because she was so sad it had ended.
  • The levels of professionalism, education, [and] fun are HIGH!

Mission JH: A week for 5th and 6th graders to experiment with leadership, teamwork, and outdoor skills.

From our instructors, John and Lauren:

  • Some of the quieter students brought ideas forward during the Challenge Course.
  • Pictured here, 5th grader Caroline conducts two things at once: her group’s attempt to collectively balance the Whale Watch, and a rendition of “Happy Birthday,” sung to Josh Kleyman, of our development office.

From the students:

  • [Our favorite parts were] working together on the low ropes of the Challenge Course, orienteering, shelter-making, and canoeing!

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