At Swain, we have an active outdoor education program that blends, supports, and bolsters our classroom experiences.
Each grade has developmentally appropriate experiences that are tailored to enhance the classroom experience. The overall goals of the outdoor education program at Swain are to provide tactile and sensory experiences for students in nature, connect to the world around the students, and challenge each student to find new ways to interact with the world and their peers.
To achieve these goals, each grade beginning in 4th grade takes a series of trips that confront each student with a series of opportunities and challenges. In 4th grade, the students go on day trips in the spring and the fall to local state parks to explore the flora and fauna of Eastern Pennsylvania with their Science teacher.
Group dynamics and challenges are the focus of 5th grade, as the student take a day in the fall to work on team building, and then they go on their first class overnight trip in the spring in order to continue to understand how to build community and overcome challenges together. The 6th grade focus returns to science as the class visits Horsham Outdoor School to explore plants and specific ecosystems in the fall, and they explore local creeks and aquatic ecosystems on kayaks and canoes for a day in the spring.
Upon reaching the middle school, the students begin to focus on history and human development, and human history's relationship to the outdoor world. The 7th graders take trips that are focused on asking questions, collecting evidence, and finding clues about the history that surrounds all of us, but can only be revealed with careful observation and thought.
Our 8th graders have a unique leadership opportunity: after years of guided trips, the 8th graders (under the guidance of the outdoor education coordinator) design their own trip. They begin the year by staying overnight at a local camp and discussing their experiences and what they want to come out of their 8th grade year. After that they form a committee that will design an experience that fits that year's 8th grade class. This year’s trip will take the class to Ocean City, Maryland.