Teamwork and Expedition Behavior with Middle School Students

Emerald Connection: September 5th, 2023

By Alice Tesar

Last week marked an exciting kickoff for our first “Friday in the Field,” as middle school students gathered to practice expedition behavior (EB). Expedition behavior encompasses a set of essential rules designed to foster group success in the backcountry. Leading the morning’s lesson was Sophie Coolidge who emphasized, “We often say that practicing good expedition behavior is akin to treating each member of the group as if it were their birthday.”

To illustrate the importance of EB, each middle school class engaged in a dynamic activity called “Crossing the River.” In this imaginative exercise, students worked together, attempting to stay “afloat” on cardboard platforms as they crossed an imaginary river. Sophie Coolidge elaborated, “This activity challenges students to plan, communicate effectively and consistently, and tap into their creativity. It serves as the foundation for our upcoming middle school POPs (Physical and Outdoor Pursuits) and equips us with the necessary tools for other expeditions.”

The 6th graders adopted a unique, but unsuccessful, strategy by tying cardboard pieces to their shoes. Math teacher Kristi Hardy noted that this approach led to a few students successfully crossing the “river” at impressive speed. The 7th graders experimented with carrying each other across the “river,” resulting in a chorus of laughter and a fair share of tumbles. However, it was the 8th graders who showcased exceptional teamwork skills by efficiently passing the cardboard pieces from the back to the front, resulting in a slow but triumphant journey across.

Overall, the day was marked by collaboration and fun as all three classes came together to learn valuable lessons in teamwork and expedition behavior. In the remaining 30 minutes, students eagerly engaged in route planning for their upcoming hike on Buffalo Pass this Friday. This spirited lesson not only fostered camaraderie but also instilled essential skills that will serve these middle schoolers well in their future outdoor adventures.

Check out photos from the upper school orientation expedition!