Four of Canby's elementary schools are headed to the beach this month for outdoor school managed by OMSI.

Canby's sixth grade students usually make the trek to outdoor school in the spring, but this year a few of the schools are switching things up.

Sixth grade students from Eccles, Knight, Lee and Trost will head to outdoor school at the end of the month.

"The four schools were thinking about trying it in the fall for a different, hopefully improved, experience," said Matthew Salisbury, a sixth grade teacher at Carus.

There are a couple of other changes too. This year, they are trading the deep wooded forests for sand and sea creatures at the Coastal Discovery Center at Camp Gray in Newport, Oregon; and OMSI is running the show. OMSI opened the 20-acre camp in spring of 2016 with the purpose of getting kids outside for educational opportunities.

The idea of switching to OMSI came about because Salisbury, who has experience with OMSI outdoor school, shared information with other principals who were looking for ways to enhance their outdoor school programs.

"As a teacher, I've taken my sixth grade students to an OMSI outdoor school for the past 15 years and have always been impressed by the quality of the experience they provide for everyone who attends—campers, counselors and teachers," Salisbury said. "The instructors are well versed in not only a field of science and in outdoor education, but also have a high working knowledge of the natural area where their camp is located. When I regularly bump into past students, even those who have long left my classroom, it's not uncommon for us to talk about how amazing outdoor school was for us."

Carus and Ninety-One will attend Camp Hancock at the Hancock Field Station in the John Day area outside of Fossil as they have in previous years, but they're moving the date to May.

The goal is for all of Canby's sixth grade students to be able to attend. With a little help from OSU Extension Service funding as a result of Measure 99 passing, Salisbury is hopeful that will be the case.

"Outdoor School can be a life changing, if not memorable, experience that provides a rich learning opportunity for students," he said. "It's a fantastic way to bring hands on learning in a real world setting that makes science come alive in ways classroom teachers are not always able to do so."

Kristen Wohlers
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