Tents, Fires without Matches, Hiking Food, and so much more!

The constant rain did not deter the Endurance group from having a great time today. We started in the gym pitching tents, both 2-3 man and 3-4 man tents. Of course we did not use stakes, but their freestanding feature made this fact irrelevant. We then had a discussion on packing equipment and planning meals for hiking trips. Campers made a menu and equipment list for a four day hiking trip. They found out that hotdogs will not be very edible after a 4 day hike with no ice so they are Lucky that they are be able to buy dehydrated food if necessary. Next the campers learned about hiking stoves then boiled water on the hiking stove and made three dehydrated meals: chicken and rice, chili mac and beef, and raspberry cobbler. They were delicious! Finally, the campers learned how to use a sparker and flint with steel wool and bark to make fires. Due to the rain, we had to cook our last s’mores on camp stoves.

What an excellent week! Everyone learned a lot, developed nice teamwork skills, and will be better suited to survive in the wilderness.

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Great Day of Kayaking!

What a wonderful day to be on the bay kayaking with my Endurance group.  The weather was slightly cloudy with temperatures in the upper sixties: perfect!  We started at Bay Creek in Irondequoit and paddled through the marsh area to get everyone comfortable paddling.  The “campers” did an awesome job and picked up on correct paddling techniques rather quickly.  Two more teachers joined us when we were heading out to Irondequoit Bay, bringing our final count to six tandem kayaks and my three single kayaks.  Some kayak groups tried to make it from the Empire Boulevard bridge to the Bay Bridge in Webster, about 2.5 miles, after having paddled quite a ways in the marsh.  Needless to say, it will take more than the amount of time we had left to make it that far.  The distance is deceiving, but they gave it their best effort and almost made it.  We saw many wild animals, with the nesting white swan being the highlight for me.

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Sleeping Bags, Knots, Emergency Shelters, and Bonfires for Endurance

The Endurance “campers” had an awesome day!  The weather was amazing: sunny and upper 60’s.  The campers first explored four very unique sleeping bags for their different qualities and learned why each was specialized for the type of camping and weather that they were made for.  They also learned about hiking backpacks, both internal and external frame, how backpacks should fit and why, and important features. Knots were the next item on the agenda, and each student mastered the four important knots that were taught, some more successfully than others.  Everyone had fun with their rope.  Next it was off to the woods to build emergency shelters to protect campers from three major elements: sun, wind, and rain.  What a wide variety of shelters constructed!  Some used only trees and fallen branches, while others used dead foliage and bark to help protect them from the weather.  One group even used the side of a hill to shelter them from the wind and rain on one side.  Very creative shelters!  Next campers tried their hand at building and maintaining bonfires.  After the successful ignition and fueling of two fires with fallen sticks, leaves, and branches, the campers enjoyed s’mores.  What a fun way to end the morning session!

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Fun morning at Montezuma Audubon Center

My Endurance group ventured over to the Montezuma Audubon Center this morning. We met with Nature Chris who taught the students about topographic maps and compass use. After our classroom session in their beautiful building, the students went outside and tried their hand at surviving in the Montezuma area using a map and compass to navigate from one location to the next. What a wonderful place to visit! The refuge has about 50,000 acres of land with ponds, lakes, wetlands, marshes, and tons of animals. I would love to go back and visit in the summer when all of the wild black raspberries are ready to enjoy.

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Awesome Day of Endurance!

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This week the middle school students at Allendale Columbia School chose a topic of interest to learn about from a wide variety of topics that the teachers offered. I am offering Endurance: Do You Have What It Takes. Today was our first day, and we went to Mendon Ponds to hike the trails and visit Wild Wings. Students first took a nature hike with a highlight of the hike being a tiny fawn lying in the brush. We then went to Wild Wings to learn about birds of prey. The facility had so many rescued birds plus a bobcat that was also rescued. Each student even made their own bird nesting box to bring home and hang to extend their learning through the year and share what they have learned with their family and friends. We then went to Devil’s Bathtub to learn about glaciers and the kettle hole/pond. One group even saw a snake on the trail. What an amazing day!

Mendon Ponds Wild Wings

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Fun on the last day of classes!

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I just had to share the following pictures taken on the last day of classes. The seventh grade science students had fun extracting DNA from strawberries before extracting their own DNA.  The sixth grade math students tried their hand at spatial awareness by building 3-D polyhedrons. Enjoy the pictures!

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Fun at Ganondagan and Ward’s Science!

Allendale Columbia School seventh grade students went to Ganondagan and Ward’s Science, on Thursday, May 9th. The weather was beautiful and the experts at each facility were amazing!


At Ganondagan the students learned about Native American history, traditions, and customs from Mike and Tonia Galban. Their lesson was held on the “white hill” and in the bark longhouse. The students were even able to try their hand at shooting a bow and arrow at a moving target.


At Wards Science the students learned about and held  many animals, learned about rocks, began their own rock collection by choosing five rocks form a huge sample, and learned about slides and preserved specimens. Thanks to Shahana and Karen for being our guides at Wards. It was an amazing day for everyone! We are very lucky to have two fantastic places so close to our wonderful school.

Quote of the day: Karen at Ward’s asks, “Why is Allendale Columbia the best school?” One of our awesome students responds, “They are accepting of everyone.”  Just one more reason why I love my students!

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