River water enveloped their senses – the smell, feel, sight, sound, and, sometimes, the taste of it – as seventh graders fought to navigate the current. The seventh grade took a trip to the Okatoma River last Friday, participating in a day-long canoeing excursion where students are encouraged to develop resilience and teamwork as they overcome challenges with the help of others. The outdoor adventure is a part of JA’s Soar program, which provides experiential learning opportunities with the purpose of instilling confidence, trust, and teamwork in students.
Setting out from the banks of the river, students canoed to a place where a wooden platform jutted out over the water. Climbing onto the platform, they took turns jumping into the river. The group then rowed to a sandbar where they ate lunch. Later, as they continued down the river, inquisitive insects tempted students to abandon their boats and jump back into the water, and several rapids proved difficult to maneuver. One canoe even got stuck on the rapids, capsizing and giving its rowers a light dunking even as their friends and leaders quickly gathered to help set them right. At the end of the course the group dropped their canoes off and headed home, bringing great memories, improved self-confidence, and enhanced teamwork abilities with them.