Wilderness Program


Wilderness Program Overview

 

Face to Face Academy has grown to recognize the importance of Outdoor Education as a catalyst for both academic success and the promotion of environmental stewardship. What started as a modest effort to expose students who suffer a nature deficit has expanded into a multi-faceted experience where students participate in several trips a year lasting anywhere from three to seven days.  Trips have included canoeing down the Namekogan River, hiking the Porcupine Mountains, service learning projects at noted environmentalist, Will Stegerís homestead and camping in the Boundary Waters.  Day activities include wilderness survival skills, canoe paddling skills, downhill and cross country skiing, rock climbing, and off road biking.  Over 50% of the Academyís seventy students now participate in the Program.  A segment of these students are also exploring a career in this field.

 

Before each trip there is a trial period where any student who is interested in the trip goes through a series of tasks.

First, they must attend a meeting that covers all the trip details including gear lists, permission slips, information on where we will be canoeing/hiking/camping, and basic expectations. 
The second task of the process is to attend a day hike using the packs that will be used on the overnight trip. Day hikes are about 3 miles with packs weighing 5-10 pounds. In their packs they carry the lunch for the day and supplies they may need. After the day hike the students really get a feel for what it means to be outside, to work with a group, and what their physical limitations or strengths are while hiking. Similarily, if it is a canoeing trip, students will learn and practice canoeing skills.
 
In general on overnight trips the group hikes 4-8 miles a day, totalling 16-24 miles a trip, and camp three nights. Students are expected to help out around the camp site, encourage each other on the trail, be respectful to the environment and each other, and have an open mind about the experience.
 
They learn new skills such as building a camp fire, how to keep yourself clean while camping, what it means to be responsible for your own equipment, putting up and taking down tents, how to survive in nature, cooking outside, and much more. Students participate in a reading and journaling experience in addition to the overnight camping. These trips give the students an excellent sense of accomplishment. Itís a different kind of challenge than theyíre used to, and in turn we hope they can apply the experience and skills they've developed into their daily lives.