Before, During, and After Family Weekend
Kate Houle, Communications Specialist

It has been a busy month at Conserve School. CS17 Students went right from a T- rescue and the portaging lesson in Outdoor Skills to The Five Lake Loop in History and English classes to Exploration Week to Family Weekend, with "Solos" coming up next! Through all of this, students have had the opportunity to build up skills, knowledge, resilience, and confidence in the wilderness in a linear and appropriate progression. During Family Weekend, students were able to not only share their new knowledge and experience but also learn and work together with family members, as parents and other relatives had the opportunity to experience a slice of Conserve School life.


Prior to going on the Five Lake Loop, students did a unit in Outdoor Skills on canoe portaging and T-Rescue to prepare them for the four-plus hour journey through the Sylvania Wilderness Area. On the Five Lake Loop, students had to work together while paddling, portaging and traversing terrain. Additionally, they were called on to reflect upon the experience as stewards of the land as well as both students of History and students of English and Literature. All of the above, not only prepared students for their week-long Exploration Week journey but in many cases stoked the fires of excitement about their upcoming trips.

During Exploration Week students gained a sense of confidence in themselves and a reverence for the natural world as well as a sense of camaraderie with their trail groups. As with most backpacking trips, there were challenges and setbacks that went along with triumphs and successes! Two students have written about their experiences for Student Stories.

Most recently, Family Weekend gave students and their families the opportunity to both learn some new skills together as well as relax and entertain each other with the Conserve School Family Weekend Open Mic tradition! In Earth Art, families worked on printmaking, in English they sat around a fire while tying together Jack London’s, To Build a Fire with the subject of the novel Into The Wild, Chris McCandless, and the topic of risk in the wilderness. 

In History class families were outside too. They got a closer look at both Wisconsin state and local Northwoods history through the lens of glacial geology and land formations. In Science, families were again outdoors studying air quality by examining lichen. And Outdoor Skills class was of course held outdoors! Families were charged with the task of learning and performing both shelter and fire building in the woods together, which was no easy task on this very wet and rainy day.

On Saturday evening there was some relaxation and entertainment after dinner. There was a slideshow viewing of images from the CS17 semester thus far, which are already, rapidly, becoming nostalgic. This was followed by an Open Mic in which talents of students, parents, guardians, and siblings were shared. Songs were sung, poetry read, instruments played, objects juggled, and skits performed.  

Families departed Conserve School Sunday afternoon, leaving their students to get on with their semester. It was a beautiful, active and maybe somewhat exhausting weekend for both students and families. Bonds were made stronger and the appreciation of the Conserve School experience was deepened. This week students went back to their curriculum in both indoor and outdoor classrooms. In the coming weeks, CS17 students will be assimilating skills and knowledge gained in outdoor skills thus far, for use on their Solos at the end of the month.

Photos contributed by various staff members.