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Camp Collins 2013

Camp Collins 2013

What happens when a group of 9, 10 and 11 years olds who have been together as a learning community for over a year spend a night and two days in a new place where they are invited to:

  • take physical, social and emotional risks,
  • count on each other in ways they hadn’t previously imagined,
  • be in a camp environment without home supports and routines, and
  • intentionally reflect on their experiences together?

Camp Collins!

Following are some peeks into our time at camp:

Our first full day (10:30 to 4:30 pm!) of camp was spent on the Ropes Course, working on low challenges that required teamwork to be successful, and on high challenges that were physically challenging and just plain scary.


This low challenge is called “Whale Watch.”  The challenge was to get the entire group on the giant balance board, one at a time, without letting the ends of the board hit the ground.


After a few attempts, the group got everyone on board and balanced and had a chance to reflect on the experience:

I feel like I trust people in this classroom more.  -KG

I appreciate everyone who was okay with not being first.  -RD

I appreciate the people who stepped up as leaders.  They took a risk of people putting them down.  I appreciate everybody for listening. -MM

I appreciate everybody in the group for letting me have a chance.  -EL

I appreciate the bystanders.  They did a lot to help the community.  -LH


On our way to our first high ropes challenge, Alex, our facilitator from Synergo, asked the group,

“What happens when you stay in your comfort zone all the time?”

LH:  You don’t try anything new.

HG:  In your Comfort Zone you don’t think about what you’re doing.

KG:  In your Optimal Performance Zone you’re scared to do it, but you do it, so you pay close attention.

Alex from Synergo:  When we try new things that we’re not used to, our Comfort Zones grow.

KG:  And your Optimal Performance Zone will grow too.

MC:  Then the Danger Zone shrinks!


On the Giant Swing


My heart is beating and I don’t want to go, but I really do! -MC


I never felt a sensation like that.  I felt free.  It was the best moment of my life, I felt so alive!  -MM

This is the funnest thing I’ve ever done in my life!  I’m Superman! -RD


I don’t even want to go next, it seems so hard. -RF


Eeeeeee!  This is so fun!  -SK


I can feel the wind!  -NT

I feel like I’m flying!  -OD


The whole ride felt pretty darn crazy.  -QS


A snippet from the dialogue the children had as they relfected after the Giant Swing:

SK:  I wish I went higher, but I don’t regret it.

EL:  I wish I went higher too.  I feel like I am wasting my time at Camp Collins.

LH:  No you’re not, EL.

EL:  Any comments about me?

RD:  You were you –

MC:  – doing your best to go to the top.


The Cat Walk



Alex from Synergo:  When you’re scared, adrenaline kicks in and your brain starts to go really fast and you have a conversation with yourself.  You can choose the frequency of the voice you hear inside your head, AM or FM.  AM means “against me,” and FM means “for me.”  Choose supportive self-talk, like, “I can do this.”

Campfire and S’mores


Writing Daily Page in the Lodge



Hike along the Sandy River



Structure Building




And a Closing Reflection

Levia:  What is different about being here at camp?

QS:  We do dangerous things.

NT:  You’re more free here.  There’s more space and you can do more risky things.  Because it’s different, it’s fun.

MG:  It feels like I’m friends with more people now.

AI:  We can do more things with each other here.

SE:  Being here is about changing your perspective of seeing someone.  I will see people differently when we get home.

SK:  You can do more things and have more accidents like going to the shower and forgetting your clothes!

QS:  They have the best salad bar!

DW:  You should make an Opal School here.

NT:  I feel more safe to be open here.  It’s totally different from school, but I feel more comfortable.

BC:  People urge you to take a risk and then you say, “Wow, I’m really brave!  I can do this!”

NT:  You can trust somebody else.

AI:  I feel like I can trust everybody more now.

DW:  It’s cool being with every single person in our class all the time.

EL:  At Camp Collins we make stronger friendships and bonds.  I have a lot bunch more friends than I used to have.

NT:  We have more time here to just be together without parents.  It feels more open in all ways.


Levia:  I am wondering if we can capture this camp feeling and find a way to take it back to school with us.

SR:  Like another bucket?

Levia:  Yes!  What would we call that bucket?

CB:  The Friendship Bucket

EL:  Happiness, Friendship, More – the Camp Feelings Bucket

BC:  The Freedom of Camp Collins

TP:  The Memory Bucket

IM:  F-ree-dom

MM:  The Road Bucket.  We can take ‘em on the road with us!

SE:  The Travel Memory Bucket

KG:  We should have the Camp Collins Agreements apply to school.

Levia:  Even, “Take Risks?”

AB:  Yeah, you can take mental risks.

BC:  There are three kinds of risks, mental, physical and emotional.

KG:  Social too!



Exhausted, the children got back from camp and created this spontaneous fire brigade line to unload the bus.  I wonder how this experience will translate back into the classroom?  Will, as KG suggested, we use our Camp Collins agreements at school?  Can we capture that feeling of freedom and accomplishment away from camp?

And how well do these children really know each other?

I feel more safe to be open here.  -NT

Being here is about changing your perspective of seeing someone.  I will see people differently when we get home.  -SE

It feels like I’m friends with more people now. -MG

Can a tight-knit group change, grow, and reinvent itself?


And how can we bring the experience BC so clearly captured back into the classroom?

“Wow, I’m really brave!  I can do this!” -BC


Thank you to all of the families, the parent chaperones, and the amazing Opal administrators who made this experience possible and successful!

September 22, 2013