For the first time in three-and-a-half years, the Iowa-Missouri Conference hosted Outdoor School this spring. Since this event had not recently been held, due to scheduling issues and the pandemic, many elementary students in the conference had never experienced it. Normally open for 5th and 6th graders, the conference opened Outdoor School to all 5-8th graders this year. About 90 students attended Outdoor School at Camp Heritage near Climax Springs, Missouri.

Students arrived Sunday afternoon and participated in an Amazing Race inspired activity. They were teamed up randomly and went through different activities that required teamwork. While many students found the exercise challenging, they also formed new friendships and connections.

“Outdoor School is an amazing experience where you can make new friends and have a lot of fun,” said Ava, a student at Sedalia Seventh-day Adventist Church School.

Sunday evening during worship students learned the theme for 2022 Outdoor School: μαρτυρέω. This Greek word means “I bear witness.” The theme played a role in the curriculum in the days to come.

On Monday, students took a hike from main camp to Cowboy Camp. For several students, this was their first time hiking.

“Outdoor School is so much fun because I got to hike for the first time,” said Ezekiel, a student at Hillcrest Seventh-day Adventist School.

Instructors taught students fire safety and fire building skills. Due to weather conditions, students and instructors headed back to camp for later day activities. In the evening, students played a hands-on role in making their dinner. They rotated through different stations to help make a complete meal in cast iron skillets. An instructor talked about cooking with cast iron skillets while the food cooked over the fires. When the food was ready, students, instructors and volunteers ate it all.

Tuesday morning started with worship, followed by a discussion on nutrition. After the presentation, students packed their own lunch by selecting fruit, making sandwiches, and choosing snack foods. Students then hiked from the main camp to Cowboy Camp again for a continued education on fire. In the afternoon, students learned about Christian storytelling. Instructors taught the different parts of a story, what makes a story good and how to share a story with others to bring glory to God.

Wednesday concluded this year’s Outdoor School. Students and instructors met for breakfast, worship and a short reflection time before heading back to school.

Besides the presented curriculum, students were able to participate in group activities like games, outdoor camping, night hikes, chores and other activities.

Many students said Outdoor School was a great experience.

“I like Outdoor School. … We can have a great time with our friends and learn a lot. The fact that we can learn about God while we’re doing all this cool stuff is really great,” said Daniel, a student at Sunnydale Adventist Elementary School.

The Iowa-Missouri Conference Education Department is happy to know that students were positively impacted by the 2022 Outdoor School. The department is thankful for all the volunteers and staff who made the event possible.

“The Education Department would like to thank the many volunteers who made our Outdoor School a reality…Several individuals came together to provide this outstanding experience for the 5th-8th grade students in our schools and home school families,” said Joe Allison, conference education superintendent.