By AMANDA KIMBLE
STEPHENVILLE (January 20, 2017) – Organizers of an upcoming camping trip are working hard to ensure no child – who has a desire and meets qualifications for an upcoming school trip – is left behind.
Liz Meiron, sixth grade art teacher, said 157 of Gilbert Intermediate’s 273 sixth grade students plan to make the trip to YMCA Camp Grady Spruce at Possum Kingdom Lake February 20-22.
Meiron and Georgia Weil are co-coordinating the camping trip for the second consecutive year.
“Last year was such an amazing experience, we are excited to take another class of sixth graders on what we believe will be a trip they’ll never forget,” Meiron said, adding there’s a need for a little extra community support.
Campus officials are diligently working to come up with the funds to fill almost 30 scholarship requests – to the tune of about $2,500.
This year marks the second for Stephenville ISD’s sixth graders, teachers and parent chaperones to visit Camp Grady Spruce. It’s a chance for students who meet a list of expectations – making good grades, meeting attendance requirements, and staying out of trouble – to study in an outdoor classroom.
Each of the students are also responsible for a $129 fee that covers travel to and from the outing, accommodations, meals, curriculum-related materials and other expenses.
For some, the cost wasn’t an issue and the balance was paid in full last year.
Meanwhile, organizers gave other students opportunities to raise the funds needed for the trip. Students had the option of collecting pocket change or raising money off campus and depositing the funds into a savings account at the school and some of them started saving last school year.
Gilbert Intermediate also held a camp fundraiser, awarding students $5 toward their camp balance for every item they sold.
Students who put in the effort to gather half of their camp costs were also given an opportunity to apply for $75 in scholarship funding, which created the $2,500 need. Meiron said the excitement surrounding the trip and in light of the academic successes of those who applied, Principal Mary Laigle awarded a scholarship to each student whose family expressed the need for financial aid.
“Many of our students never get the opportunity to experience camping and fully immersing themselves in the great outdoors,” Meiron said in an online appeal for funding. “These energetic 6th Graders are extremely eager to explore, learn and grow through this experience of a lifetime.”
Recalling the 2016 trip, Meiron told The Flash she watched as students absorbed new experiences and took a new approach to working with their peers.
“There was a lot of relationship building at camp last year,” she said. “It was really amazing to watch how students interacted with each other and worked together – there was a lot of problem solving. I saw a lot of kids getting excited about things they had never seen or experienced before. I also saw them embrace a newfound sense of adventure in an environment that was away from their parents and the confines of our regular classrooms.”
Camp Grady Spruce offers students a learning environment that includes an island, mountain and 535 acres in northwestern Palo Pinto County. Campers explore the relationship between man and nature through lessons on prairie reclamation, outdoor living skills, nutrient cycling, water cycles, sustainable development, conservation and more. They are given the opportunity to ride a boat, hike rough terrain and get a bird’s-eye view of nature – seeing for many miles in every direction – from atop a cliff.
Meiron said the valuable lessons and unique experiences are well worth the investment, and she’s confident the local community will also see the trip as a worthwhile experience.
While the online donation page has been established for friends, family and other supporters who live outside of the local area to contribute, Meiron said local community members who would like to offer monetary support can do so at the Gilbert Intermediate campus, located 950 North Dale Avenue in Stephenville.
For more information, contact Principal Mary Laigle at (254) 968-4664.