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Outdoor Education

Enhancing the classroom curriculum

Learning through real-life experiences
At Swain, each grade offers developmentally appropriate extra-curricular adventures that are tailored to enhance the classroom experience. The overall goals of the outdoor education program are to provide tactile and sensory experiences for students in nature, connect to the world around them, and challenge each student to find new ways to interact with the outdoors and with their peers. Rich with opportunity, the program is designed to push students both as individuals, and as a member to the world around them.

To achieve these goals, each class beginning in 4th grade embarks on a series of trips that confront each student with numerous opportunities and challenges. 
From its earliest beginnings, Swain has embraced the importance of getting off campus to see the bigger world. That tradition continues today.


Beginning in 4th grade, students take day trips throughout the spring and the fall to local state parks to explore the flora and fauna of Eastern Pennsylvania with their Science teacher. These day trips serve as an introduction to what will come as students continue their outdoor learning program.
Group dynamics and challenges are the focus of 5th grade, as students work on team-building and take an overnight trip in the spring. In 6th grade, focus returns to Science as students explore plants and specific ecosystems in the fall, as well as local creeks and aquatic ecosystems on kayaks and canoes in the spring.
In 7th grade, the focus turns to history, human development, and human history's relationship to the outdoor world. Students take trips that are centered around 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, these Swain seniors (under the guidance of the Outdoor Education Coordinator) plan and design their own trip. They begin the year by staying overnight at a local retreat; discussing their experiences and what they hope to come of their 8th grade year. After this, they form a committee that will plan an adventure best suited for their 8th grade class.

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