The Cougar Foundation is raising money to support the continuation of the Palmyra Area School District's Outdoor Education Program through a combination of grants and community support. Last year commemorated the 40th year of the Outdoor Education Program at Palmyra Middle School, started by its founding fathers Dr. Alan Fager, Mr. Jack Knol, and Mr. Jon Clemens. In 2019, three hundred and seventeen seventh grade students, forty junior and senior high school counselors, and twenty-seven staff members took part in the five-day residential program at Camp Swatara over the course of two weeks. Over 9,000 seventh grade students have participated in Outdoor Education, with third generation families in the Palmyra community now coming through the program.
The Outdoor Education Program provides students an opportunity to learn in an environment outside of school walls. The learning that takes place in this program is not only academic in nature. There is tremendous personal and social growth throughout the week as well. Now, more than ever, in a world where technology can make it difficult for students to develop healthy social skills, this program allows students the opportunity to get to know each other beyond the superficial/outside shell of a person. The basic premise of the program remains the same: Learn about the beauty inside yourself and others, as well as within nature and the environment.
The Outdoor Education Program involves a learning climate where the traditional curriculum is enriched with practical, direct environmental experiences. The students become involved in eleven different programs of study, a majority of which includes active learning processes. Among these courses, the most challenging is the adventure course. This is a team building activity comprised of many stations requiring group work and problem solving skills. At Camp Swatara, a variety of the activities develop team-building skills. These activities allow students to develop interpersonal skills, find their personal strengths, and achieve a task through various communications skills. Other classes include: stream study, square dance, geology, star lab, watersheds, nature observation, reflection/expression, music, orienteering, and survival.
Throughout the week students participate in recreational activities including boating, mini-golfing, hiking, frisbee golf, four square, gaga ball, and kickball. In addition to the classes and activities the students attend during the day, many evening events are included. Square dancing and the final campfire provide the highlights of the evening programs.
A unique atmosphere develops between students, counselors, and the staff during the week. This atmosphere builds on the school’s theme of Cougar PRIDE (Preparation, Respect, Integrity, Determination, Empathy). The best in each student is acknowledged and enriched at outdoor education. Because of the multitude of extraordinary experiences offered at Camp Swatara, outdoor education is frequently remembered as an unforgettable event for Palmyra students.
At the end of each week everyone has the opportunity to reflect on their camp experience.
Please consider supporting the Outdoor Education Program through the Cougar Foundation so that Palmyra's students can participate in this program for another 40 years!
Thank you in advance for your generosity!