Polk County Outdoor Education class takes on Pisgah National Forest

Published 11:17 am Monday, June 6, 2011

The PCHS Outdoor Education class went camping for three nights and four days in the Pisgah National Forest. The students were able to put into use the skills they have been learning and practicing throughout the semester. From left: Josh Cuthbertson, Danielle Klie, Haley Champion, Sarah Angier and Johnny Parker sit around the campfire. (photo submitted)

by Heather Claussen

Editor’s note: The Polk County Outdoor Education class at Polk County High School recently took a trip to the Pisgah National Forest. The following was written by Heather Claussen, the physical education/healthful living teacher at PCHS.

Our trip started at Brevard College and included a tour of the Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education (WLEE) program. One of the interns there, Emily, gave us a short lesson on Leave No Trace (LNT) and we also got to meet the Voice of the Rivers group who were preparing to depart for a trip. They were doing a short lesson on layering clothes, which we were able to participate in as well.

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From there, we headed to the campsite. Each pair was responsible for finding and setting up a comfortable place for their tent in the area. Then it was on to our first dinner. Each person had a partner with whom they were responsible for planning and preparing a meal for the group. Cabell Brand and Josh Cuthbertson were the first pair to prepare dinner. They chose to prepare campfire pizzas, made by taking a tortilla, spreading some pizza sauce, adding pepperoni and topping it with cheese. Then came the task of heating it up (some decided eating it cold was much less work). Those of the group who wanted a hot pizza had to find a happy medium of not burning it, keeping it from falling into the fire and trying not to get ash all over it. Overall, it was a pretty successful meal.

Before we headed off to bed, we were entertained by singing and guitar playing from Cabell. The first night was definitely the coldest and some learned that they couldn’t sleep the same as they did back in the comfort of their homes.

Sarah Angier said, “I went to bed in shorts and a T-shirt, waking up every few hours to apply another layer of clothes. In the morning, I was wearing half the wardrobe I brought.”

This was a good lesson learned the first night as we were better prepared and nobody was cold any of the other nights.

The next morning, we rose early at 6 a.m. to catch a hike on a busy trail. We traveled up to the base of Looking Glass Rock and enjoyed some time there. Another hike we took part in on Sunday was to the top of John Rock. From here the view just seemed to keep on going.

Danielle Klie commented on the hike, saying, “I must say, it was a gorgeous view to see after such a long hike and it was well worth it.”

We also had the privilege of participating in two classes through the Pisgah Education Center.

Regarding the classes, Haley Champion said, “I was exhausted from my hard weekend of camping and thought these classes would put me to sleep, but surprisingly enough, they kept me interested.”

One of the classes was a GPS course, in which we learned about geocaching. We were also taken on a tour of the fish hatchery and learned how one operates and its purpose.

The students were also responsible for preparing and teaching a 30 minute lesson on various outdoor topics, some of which included fly fishing, coon hunting, bear safety, plant identification, first aid, constellations and weather forecasting.

Overall the group said the weekend was very relaxing and enjoyable as well as educational.

“I was very proud of these students and the work they put into this camping trip. They were very respectful and responsible everywhere we went which made this trip a success in every way,” said Coach Claussen.

The group hiked to the top of John Rock (shown above), learned how to fly fish, took an informational tour of the Pisgah Fish Hatchery and learned and practiced using a GPS for geocaching. They were also each responsible for cooking a meal over an open fire and working together as a team to get daily tasks accomplished. Shown above, from left: Johnny Parker, Sarah Angier, Danielle Klie, Ericka Ridings, Josh Cuthbertson and Craig Claussen. (photo submitted)