When CPA fifth grade left campus to an outdoor learning retreat in Mentone, Ala., they prepared for more than just a field trip. This longstanding tradition is the first overnight trip for a CPA student, a trip that engages each student physically, cognitively, and spiritually.
Nature’s Classroom is located on a beautiful bend of the Little River on Lookout Mountain. Specifically designed for experiential, outdoor learning, the campus is outfitted with hiking trails, fields, ropes courses, canoeing, cabins, campfires, and more. Prior to embarking on the trip, students completed the Strengths Finder student assessment, discovering individual strengths, talents, and a self-awareness of how God made them. Based on their different strengths, students were placed in “field groups” once they arrived at Nature’s Classroom. Field groups consist of approximately 16 students, a lower school faculty member, and a Nature's Classroom guide. Field groups hike together, dine together, and participate in team-building activities together throughout the trip.
Adventure and challenge are both central to the core curriculum at Nature’s Classroom. Specifically designed activities provided opportunities for students to challenge themselves, gaining a sense of personal accomplishment and growth. All challenge activities operate under “challenge by choice” ethics, emphasizing the student setting his or her own goals, choosing his or her own level of challenge, and creating an atmosphere in which everyone feels comfortable pushing themselves to do their best. Some of the challenges that students accepted included a night hike with no lights or guiding technology, a cave crawl, summiting a large rock formation, and jumping from a high rope swing.
“Students learned how to use their own gifts and strengths to stretch themselves. The intimate field group environment provided encouragement, collaboration, and creative problem-solving, all out in God’s creation. They got to know themselves better, and they got to know each other better,” says Head of K-8 Rhonda Smith.
Students concluded each day with a campfire, excitedly swapping stories with each other about the day’s challenges and accomplishments.
2323-A Old Hickory Blvd. / Nashville, TN 37215 / 615-373-9550
Christ Presbyterian Academy is a private, coeducational, college-preparatory school for grades preschool through 12. The Academy provides transformational education through a Christian worldview and offers extensive programs to develop the diverse potential of each student. CPA is a ministry of Christ Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Nashville, Tennessee.