Fifth Graders Strengthen Bonds at Greene Family Camp
Marco Rodriguez

The wettest fall on record couldn't stop 24 fifth-graders and their six chaperones from embarking on an unforgettable 300-mile adventure from Dallas to Bruceville to participate in confidence building and group challenges that would help create a learning community in the classroom. After stopping briefly for morning tefillot (prayers) at a roadside rest stop, we arrived at Greene Family Camp to head straight to the camps ropes course high elements. Each student challenged themselves with these activities.

First came the Zip Line. Students put on their safety equipment and ascended the tower for the 600-foot 30-second ride over a grassy field. Through this high rope element and others this day, there was proof self-confidence was emerging. Next, we were off to the Alpine Tower. This 50-foot climbing wall is 18 elements in one with lots of ways to the top. Classmates yelled words of encouragement to each other as they made their ascent. Finally, came the giant swing. The kids called it "The Screamer." Classmates pulled one student up one side of a 50-foot swing. When the student chose, they let go of the rope where they then swung like a pendulum (and not in silence). These high elements helped students build their confidence while their classmates cheered them on to let them know they were supported. And this was all before lunch- Day One!

Lunch was a tasty selection of gourmet food catered from Saba's Restaurant schelped all the way from Houston. After lunch, we enjoyed free choice activities of gym time, game room fun, and canoeing on the lake. Following dinner, we continued bonding and hanging out as a grade playing Balloon Pop charades, and creating cheers for our upcoming Levine Pep Rally in November.

Bunk time before bed was filled with card games and chillaxing for the guys and spa night and face masks for the gals. We tried our best to get to sleep with all the energy of the day spilling out as we drifted off sleep.

In the morning, a hardy waffle breakfast was followed by finishing up our high elements from Day One and participating in low element activities that solidified our bonding experience. After lunch, we boarded the bus for the journey home. One might think it would be a quiet bus ride after all we experienced in the last 30 hours, but the bonding continued as we joked and laughed from Waco back to Dallas.

Back at Levine, teachers and students can draw from these moments to help problem solve and support each other in small group discussions and collaborative projects to enhance classroom discussion and learning. All in all, fun was had by everyone with memories to last a lifetime and a great beginning to continued friendships as we begin our journey through Middle School.