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Outdoor Education


NAAEE is the leading environmental education organization in North America working to strengthen environmental education in schools and communities across the continent and beyond. It is also the lead on developing state environmental literacy plans that help support state standards and enhance community education efforts by linking schools with nonformal partners.
Fontana Elementary School has a long tradition of environmental education, with the week-long "Outdoor Ed" program as the centerpiece of the program.

Outdoor Education is the over-arching theme of the fifth-grade curriculum. Students engage in a yearlong study of the environment and nature around them. They visit the Fontana Fen in the fall, and over the course of the year study local species of trees, wildflowers, and birds.

As a culmination to the course of study, in the spring our fifth graders spend a week at Lake Geneva Youth Camp, along with adult counselors (including their teachers) and high school counselors. This program typically takes place during the first full week in May from Monday morning through Friday at noon. The students stay overnight in a dorm facility.

At camp, students learn about nature and also about life skills and getting along with others. The students talk about their camp experience many years after they leave fifth grade. It is truly a highlight in their elementary education.

The cost of the program is shared by the school, 5th grade families, and the community (through various fundraisers). Students in fifth grade run the school store and put the profits toward camp. Students in grades 3-8 participate in a fall fundraiser. Any excess proceeds from fundraising are set aside for the school's outdoor education programs (including camp), maintenance of the school's arboretum, and various supplies for environmental education at other grades levels.