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The Gordon School

Overnight success

Middle School adventures in the forests, farms and seashores of New England

Ask a Gordon Middle School student about their overnight earlier this week.


They might not mention the cognitive and psychological benefits of extended exposure to the outdoors.

They might not be able to articulate how experiential learning and richly interdisciplinary pedagogy can have a surprising longterm impact on traditional academics.


But they will probably remember the porcupines, snakes, cows, chickens, pigs, horses, newts, dogs and cats.


They will mention red hot dogs, maple syrup, forest grubs and freshly harvested peaches.

They may recall hikes at night, chores at dawn, games before lunch, rock paper scissors competitions, aeronautics experiments, forest shelters and blacksmithing.


There was also all that singing, together, loud singing, a lot of it.

And if you really get them going, they might be able to explain how this experience helped connect them with their classmates and their teachers.


They might understand why it was important to have community meetings, cooperative challenges, evening checkins, and affirmation boards.


They could have noticed how their classroom routines feel a little easier than they did last week.

And how afternoon recess took on new energy.

Or maybe not.


Maybe the students can’t articulate the social and emotional benefits of the annual overnights.


But does that even matter?


Their teachers can see the impact, and their parents might too, as students bring this experience back to campus and back to their homes.

And that’s why we do this.


Each September, Gordon sends the entire Middle School off campus on overnight experiences throughout New England. Through formal teambuilding exercises and games, and informal outdoor adventures, they'll deepen their connections to each other and prepare to support one another through the academic year ahead.

After two years of scaled-back trips, the overnights returned in full force this fall. Fifth grade was at Grotonwood Camp in Massachusetts, sixth grade was at Camp Wingate Kirkland on Cape Cod, seventh grade went to Camp Cody in New Hampshire, and eighth grade was at Farm School in Athol, Massachusetts.

Many more photos from the Middle School overnights are on Gordon's Flickr site

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Overnight success

Middle School adventures in the forests, farms and seashores of New England

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