You have to hand it to the seventh-graders who opt out of Old Rochester Regional Junior High School’s Survival Week: They don’t just sit around twiddling their thumbs.
ORRJS science teacher Kathy Gauvin heads up the school’s Selected Courses Offered for Personal Enrichment program, which serves as the alternative for students who don’t sign up for Survival. Though Survival is rightfully legendary for the challenge it sets forth for students – fending for themselves far away from the societal conveniences they’re accustomed to – SCOPE’s goals are also admirable.
“We want them out of their comfort zone, but we also want them to have some fun,” Gauvin said. “We’re aiming for some diversity in the events during the week, from trust- and team-building exercises to taking them to places they might have never been before.”
During SCOPE 2013 this past week, students visited Sky Zone in Providence, the YMCA ropes course, the Mattapoisett Land Trust for hiking and other activities, and Fort Phoenix. They also went bowling.
“That’s why I did SCOPE,” said seventh-grader Hannah Farias during Wednesday’s hike. “There are more things to do. There’s one day of hiking and being in the woods instead of a week. I can handle that.”
Classmate Kimmy Rigby agreed.
“It was muddy and gross, but it ended up being really fun,” she said. “I liked seeing another part of Mattapoisett.”
Gauvin, with the help of other ORRJS faculty, guided the scores of students through a scavenger hunt, a “human knot,” and other physical and mental obstacles.
“Some of them are friends, and others haven’t spent much time together,” Gauvin said. “You really see not only character and self-esteem being built up, but also friendships.”
Gauvin said that some kids at first feel the stigma of not participating in Survival, but most of them overcome it by week’s end.
“We rate it on how happy they are, and engaged,” she said. “The kids are having a blast. As long as they’re having fun and learning things outside of the classroom, the program is a success.”
By Shawn Badgley