There is no question that outdoor experiences help build skills in team building, and many corporate entities use this same tool to help build corporate culture.
For years, Hyde School has provided families and students with opportunities to explore Maine’s natural beauty by providing opportunities for outdoor education, including camping experiences, at the school’s 600-acre Black Wilderness Preserve property in Maine’s Bigelow Mountain range.
Hyde School encourages students to establish a connection with the outdoors for myriad reasons. Why does the school place an emphasis on leadership and character education in the great outdoors?
Connecting with the natural world
Spending time outdoors is an excellent way to recharge our social, mental, and emotional batteries. Walking in forested woodlands, hiking on mountain trails, or paddling on pristine bodies of water provides students with physical challenges that can empower them to tackle challenges outside their comfort zone while also providing the context for them that they are part of something bigger than themselves.
Mental health and educational professionals have clearly established the connection between exercising and spending time outdoors as a way to enjoy better physical and mental health and Hyde School fully embraces this research by requiring all students to participate in three seasons of athletics and to spend some time each year at the school’s wilderness property, the Black Preserve in Eustis, Maine.
Building Strong Bonds
At Hyde School participating in camping trips and other outdoor adventures provides students the opportunity to both initiate and foster strong bonds with peers and faculty alike. Giving students time to share about themselves and to listen to others, whether sitting around a campfire talking or finding synergy while paddling a canoe together, allows students to develop meaningful relationships that truly become lifelong friendships.
While at the Black Wilderness Preserve, free from the distractions of social media, other technology, and just the day-to-day demands of its rigorous college preparatory curriculum, Hyde students can engage deeply and meaningfully with one another. In turn these experiences fuel a positive peer culture and open, honest, caring interactions between all members of the community when everyone is back on campus.
Enjoying the outdoors can be helpful for putting things into perspective
Character education is the foundation of all education
Taking on challenges outside one’s comfort zone is an essential skill. Part of Hyde’s commitment to having each member of the community spend time at the Black Wilderness Preserve is to help students learn what it is that they are capable of doing, even when the doing is hard or challenging.
It is for this same reason that Hyde asks “all to do all.” Every student and every faculty member participates in athletics, performing arts, public speaking, and service to the community. The shared experiences that all members of the community have together helps reinforce one of the foundational principles of the school: We must be each other’s keeper. Hyde School believes that to become one’s best each of us must challenge and support those around us to ensure that they go after their best.
Education and memories for a lifetime
Hyde School seeks to help students know themselves and to be themselves in the world. By providing opportunities to not only stretch beyond what they might have previously believed themselves capable of, Hyde is helping students create “muscle memory” around character and leadership development. This iterative process of action and reflection is part of every Hyde experience whether in the woods or in a classroom and it is from opportunities like spending time camping with peers that this enduring strength to be one’s best self each day emanates.