Camp Explore-A-Lot debuts at Garlough
Camp Explore-A-Lot brings culminating experience to all Garlough 4th graders
Posted on 10/22/2015

Camp Explore-A-Lot EngineeringAfter nearly two years of planning, Garlough Environmental Magnet School unveiled its inaugural “Camp Explore-A-Lot” during the week of October 5. The week full of standards-based, highly engaging lessons replaces an annual overnight trip for fourth grade students to Eagle Bluff Learning Center in Lanesboro, Minn.

“Camp Explore-A-Lot is a culminating, integrated and multi-faceted celebration of the fourth grade’s Garlough experience in environmental education. Moreover, the camp is a Minnesota State Academic Standards-based exploration with engaging and enriching hands-on lessons and problem-solving experiences,” said Jennifer Parker, magnet facilitator at Garlough.

Activities during the week focused on team building and cooperation, using nature and the outdoors as a platform. Science, social studies and writing standards were all tied in through mini-lessons on engineering, electricity, fire building and more. A daytrip to Shepard Farm in Cottage Grove also included lessons on local history and technology advancement over time. Later this month, a teambuilding adventure for fourth graders will take place at Fort Snelling’s Base Camp.

Camp Explore-A-Lot Electricity

"Due to a variety of reasons, mostly the financial hardship for our families, we decided to discontinue the trip to Eagle Bluff,” said Parker. “We still wanted to offer a similar high-engagement, celebratory learning experience that was affordable and innovative, so as a staff we developed Camp Explore-A-Lot.”

By capitalizing on long-time partnerships with organizations like Dodge Nature Center, Garlough was able to significantly reduce the cost for families. Materials for geocaching and orienteering lessons during the week were donated by the Department of Natural Resources, while the Jeffers Foundation contributed reflection journals used daily by the students. The ISD 197 Foundation also provided funding for the camp through a grant.

In the end, the efforts of the Garlough staff have ensured that all fourth grade students are able to participate in the school’s capstone program.

“The students loved the week and the highly engaging activities,” Parker said.