6th Grade Camp
Any Mayville Middle School student will tell you: a highlight of the year is Environmental Camp. It has been a highlight for the district’s 6th grade students for 39 years.
The Camp is held over five days and four nights in Plymouth, Wisconsin, at Camp Anokijig, just a brief car ride from Mayville. Ninety students attended in April 2014, filling their days with classes that include Forestry, Water Study and Geology and other elements of their curriculum, which focuses on environmental study. Students learn to make tie-dye T-shirts, ride horses and work on their tracking skills. There is recreational time at Camp as well. Students get a daily hour of boating, basketball, ping pong, and look forward to evenings filled with entertainment. That entertainment includes a skit that students perform with their lodge group and the help of their high school counselor. Through it all, the students keep journals, writing about their experiences, their thoughts and their feelings.
Camp Director Terri Fuller has been involved since her second year of teaching in Mayville in 1976. She explained that the children write, read, and learn life skills of cooperation, collaboration and compromise while at Camp Anokijig. “Educationally speaking, Camp is the best of all learning, children living, learning and experiencing the out of doors together for one whole week,” said Fuller. “This type of active learning covers all the necessary components of what internalizes knowledge - the cognitive, the affective, and the kinesthetic.”
It takes a village to create a Camp, says Fuller. The 90 students in attendance in 2014 were supported by five Middle School teachers, eight volunteer chaperones, and an estimated 40 parents who either helped with the move-in, pitched in with the daytime chores or who stayed overnight.
Middle School Principal John Sclender visits the Camp for a day or more, calling it a “right of passage” for the 6th graders. Fuller agrees. “I always tell the children that they come to Camp one person and leave another.” She recounts reading some of the children’s journals and seeing they’d written that Camp gave them a chance to be independent, to take a risk, to try new things.
Each year, the cost of sending a student to Environmental Camp varies, depending on the total number of students, rental fees, food and staffing. Donations help defray costs, and so does student fundraising. Fuller says there is talk of creating a 6th Grade Camp Booster group to help raise money. She wants the Camp to continue, citing the long-term positive impact it has on the students who attend. “Camp is not a gift we give the children,” said Fuller. ”It is a gift we give the community.”