Teachers brave the elements to clean up Kiwanis Cabin for kids

Release Date: 
Monday, April 5, 2010

Sunridge staff prep cabins for Outdoor School

This article originally appeared in the April 3, 2010, East Oregonian and was written by reporter Samantha Tipler. It has been posted to this web site with permission from the East Oregonian.

Teachers braved snow, sleet and wind Friday morning to prepare cabins and campgrounds for kids coming to outdoor school this spring.

On Friday, five sixth-grade teachers from Sunridge Middle School worked to paint the inside of Buck Creek Cabin, also known as the Kiwanis Cabin. The cabins in that area are used by more than 650 Hermiston and Pendleton students during outdoor school. Friday morning the teachers painted the inside of the kitchen and dining areas in Buck Creek Cabin in an effort to brighten up the area.

Outside in the falling snow, Scott Rogers, director of products and services with Umatilla-Morrow Education Service District, cleared and burned downed trees.

Rogers said the cleanup is part of a yearly preparation for outdoor school. Last year, with the colder winter, staff wasn't able to get to the cabins because they were buried under several feet of snow. So this year they're playing a bit of catchup and taking the opportunity to clean things up as much as possible, Rogers said. On Saturday, staff from the Hermiston School district and volunteers from Hermiston and Pendleton Kiwanis and Rotary groups also came to help prepare the area for students.

Outdoor school will start April 19, Rogers said, when Hermiston fifth grade students will come for the first round. Then Pendleton sixth grade students will be there in May and a second round of Hermiston fifth grade students will be there in June. In all, UMESD?expects 275 students from Pendleton and 377 students from Hermiston.

"For a lot of kids this is their fist time outdoors," Rogers said.

Paul Nolan, a Sunridge Middle School sixth grade teacher who came to outdoor school as a student, then as a high school counselor, will spend his first spring here as a teacher this year. He said outdoor school also gives kids a chance to interact with other people in a communal setting outside of school and home.

Chris Schulze, another sixth grade teacher at Sunridge, said students get outdoor experience with activities like shooting a bow and arrow or BB gun, playing horse shoes, sawing logs and learning to boat.

The students also go on three hikes, he said. One on the first day up Ninemile Ridge, a night hike during the week, and a hike up Buck Mountain.

Friday was an in-service day for Pendleton teachers, and Schulze said he was glad to spend it in the woods rather than at his desk - even though it was snowing in the woods.

Other than sprucing up Buck Creek Cabin, Rogers said Pendleton School District maintenence staff re-roofed the shower house and cleaned it up. Staff also worked on lighting and electrical utilities so they would work better with the generators.

The U.S. Forest Service owns the cabins, but UMESD leases them for outdoor school, Rogers said. Though schools use them in the spring, UMESD also rents them out to families for reunions and other organizations for events throughout the summer.

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