Every year sixth graders from around the conference can attend environmental school at Broken Arrow Ranch where they can get together and learn about the great outdoors, make new friends, and learn more about Jesus. This year a total of 46 students from seven schools and one homeschool attended from Sept. 5-8.

Environmental School is an important rite of passage in the Kansas-Nebraska Conference. It is an event that students look forward to for years and never forget once they have attended. It is an opportunity for students to get out of the classroom to have fun with their friends and make new friends with students from other schools. There is an even greater purpose for environmental school. In the book, Education, Ellen White writes, “The book of nature, which spread its living lessons before them, afforded an exhaustless source of instruction and delight. On every leaf of the forest and stone of the mountains, in every shining star, in earth and see and sky, God’s name was written” (31). Our students were delighted to learn in the book of nature.

This week of learning in God’s great outdoors would not be possible without the 20 adults, most of them volunteers, who invested a week of their time to make this learning experience happen. Students learned orienteering taught by Jeaneen Erickson, videography taught by Saul Dominguez, wilderness survival taught by Dr. Mary Burton, and classifications of plants and ropes and knots taught by Lloyd Petersen. An exciting aspect of this experience is the mentoring that takes place between the adult volunteers and the students. The volunteers come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences and the students benefit from these positive interactions.

To tie everything together for the students, Pastor Jeff Carlson led the students in singing and presented meaningful and relevant worship talks every morning and evening. His talks illustrated for the students how their attitude and decisions make a substantial difference to those around them. They may never know the impact they have on their friends and others they meet each day.

I am thankful that our schools support this exciting and fun learning experience for our sixth graders by sending students and finding volunteers to help make this experience a reality.

Jeff Bovee is education superintendent for the Kansas-Nebraska Conference.