We have enjoyed a fun and busy Fall season of programming with the middle school staff and students at the Experiential Education Facility! Positive attitudes were expected and demonstrated, productive learnings gained, many successes experienced, strengths discovered, and plenty of encouragement, fun, and laughter!

The Experiential Education Program (EEP) provided instruction, direction, and support to more than 600 participants during the fall season programs. An overview of programs include:

  • safety—number one priority
  • problem solving activities encourage establishing solutions through working together
  • activities are followed by a debrief, encouraging transference and use of strengths and positive qualities in day-to-day lives
  • 6th grade takes on opportunities of the Low Group Initiative Course
  • 7th grade takes on opportunities of the Climbing Wall and a Trust Circle
  • 8th grade takes on opportunities of the Alpine Tower and a Trust Fall
  • 9th grade takes on opportunities of the Leap of Faith
  • 5th grade classroom programs (optional), focus on Teamwork and Leadership
  • “additional optional challenges” for Wall and Tower include climbing blindfolded, climbing with a small cup


  • full of water and trying to pour it on person of their choice from top, and climbing while tethered to one or two classmates.

Observed outcomes in students include:

  • being surprised at what was achieved
  • accepted responsibilities and leadership roles
  • established trust within team and experienced being trusted by others
  • realization of individual strengths and strengths of working as a team
  • achieved and surpassed personal goals, followed by cheers, laughter, smiles — FUN!
  • demonstrated responsibility for safety of self and others
  • tried new activities; took on new roles within group — leadership, support, trust; demonstrated strengths, communicated effectively
  • confidence in self
  • felt empowered with making choices for self and experience the support, success, and personal rewards of individual choices
  • demonstrated respect and acceptance of abilities and choices of self and others
  • awareness of the necessity of planning, communication, adjusting plans, and trying again and again
  • demonstrated determination and a mindset of achieving — from “I can’t” to “I did it”
  • took on challenges, experienced success, had FUN with the challenges

All participants are encouraged to reflect on their experiences — through discussions and on an evaluation. Following are student comments representing highlights and themes on evaluations:

  • meeting, working with, and making new friends—getting to know classmates better
  • helping each other—in so many ways, and helping a lot of people at the same time
  • letting others help me
  • great opportunity to learn new things
  • it was cool to climb and realize that it wasn’t that difficult, going further than I.thought possible
  • everybody has different strengths and weaknesses
  • I can do anything if I don’t give up—perseverance
  • we worked together to be creative in coming up with solutions
  • teammates gave me instructions that helped me and others
  • I hope I continue to do things I never thought I could
  • the encouragement from others and the trust we established was awesome—trusting others & self
  • we felt successful, accomplished, and proud—exceeded personal goals
  • being nervous and using nervous energy to try new things—I hope I will challenge myself more
  • everyone working together and staying positive was awesome
  • I have all kinds of different strengths—utilized strengths I didn’t know I had
  • didn’t know I could be such a team player—we did fun stuff together
  • sharing ideas and discussing plans with friends how to find a solution
  • failing—and doing it again and again—and succeeding
  • taking on the optional challenges while climbing

The EEP clearly highlights the effectiveness of a team, the importance of support, the strengths of each and every individual and the ability to choose appropriate challenges. The values of working together are recognized and utilized.

We are proud of our students and acknowledge their efforts, successes and discoveries. Thank you Avery County Schools for the support and dedication to providing the unique and empowering Experiential Education Program opportunities for our students. For further information, contact Lisa Loveday at Avery County Schools.

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