Our two orienteering groups with Hunter right after the session

Orienteering through Middle School

Kanuga Mountain School in Henderson, North Carolina on October 9th, 2019- one of those days in your career that sticks with you-  It was sixth grade interim, with the class split into four groups rotating between multiple 3-hour outdoor learning sessions during the week. The session that started this Wednesday morning was called “Orienteering,” a course designed to teach young people how to navigate in the woods through hard-to-find tree markers with nothing but a compass, a rough map and 3-4 other students. The groups would be by themselves with an awesome instructor, Hunter, who would use calls to rotate between each group in the woods from time to time. Of course, my first question to Hunter was, “Have you ever lost a group in the woods?” But his disposition and response assured me that this was safe way to teach the skill (and no, he has never lost a group in years of doing this). He allowed me to travel but not participate, far behind one group to see what unfolded. What I did not expect was a heavy sudden downpour which occurred once we were led into the woods.

As I trailed behind Henry, Alana, Sophie, Riley and Preston, I was in a state of amazement. Alana, the anchor for the first marker, would set her compass and shoot the direction, holding her arm out straight to show the group where to start walking. If they got off course too far, she would call out to the other four, and they would turn to check with her arm direction and readjust. If they got out of sight, Alana would find a marker and proceed forward to always keep them in view. There were times where the group lost the markers and the anchor reshot to find the next marker;  the whole time the anchor’s role with a compass coupled with the other students’ ability to trust them was a significant key to success.

As I navigate my first few weeks as a parent of a middle schooler (this phrase still sounds off to me), I realize it is a lot like orienteering. When we are at our best as parents/teachers, we give children the tools, help set a direction and allow them to go. This process brings a ton of anxiety, because as the anchor we want to correct every step so that the path is perfect. But it won’t be perfect, nor should it be. These “tree markers” – grades, comments, roles in plays or on teams, scout project, etc. – are all in our lives to help us reflect and cast toward another marker. These are static results to help us progress toward the next. Sometimes our kids never get to their marker, like our group did on one particular tree (they swore it didn’t really exist after 30 minutes of healthy discourse in the rain). I encourage you to help your child(ren) reset and shoot for the next one instead of our natural inclination as a parent to move the marker, cut the tree down like the marker never existed or tell them the marker wasn’t important anyway. And lastly, if the bottom falls out and storms affect your journey…do like our 6th graders on that October day in the North Carolina Mountains and keep pushing forward.

Nathan Watts

Important November Dates for the Middle School—

  • Thursday, October 31.  All students come to school dressed in Halloween Costumes.  Reminder: Halloween is FULL DAY of school for the MS and US.
    • The Annual MS Halloween Dance is from 10:30 to 11:30.
    • MS Parents are welcome to attend. Expect to work with your grade level table during the event. 😊
  • Friday, November 1 from 5:30 to 7:00— MS Tailgate in the Grove with Grade-Level Tables.
  • Monday, November 4— Faculty Professional Growth Day— NO SCHOOL.
  • Sunday, November 10— Open House beginning at 3:00 p.m. – Click here for more information… Email Lory Pendergrast for invitations, more details, etc… at lpendergrast@heritageschool.com
  • Monday, November 11— Academic Alerts will be sent.
  • Tuesday, November 12— Garden Work Day— Volunteers are encouraged to join! Click on this link to sign up or email kvan@heritageschool.com for more information.
  • Thursday, November 21— Parent/Student Thanksgiving Lunch in the SLC.  More information to come.
  • Wednesday, November 20 at 8:30—  7th + 8th Grade Parent Coffee on “Parenting During Exam Season.” Click on this link to RSVP.
  • Friday, November 22— Grandparents Day— Noon Dismissal—Click Here for more information
  • Week of November 25— Thanksgiving Break— NO SCHOOL

Looking Ahead—

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: