Before your club can really be a club, you need to find some students to take part! You might already know there are a group of students interested e.g. from existing clubs or maybe you have a certain grade in mind?
Set a date for your first meeting and then post flyers around the school advertising the meeting. Make announcements school-wide or to individual classrooms. Word of mouth will probably be the most powerful way of spreading the word so if you have some eager early adopters, encourage them to bring their friends and spread the word.
Every school will have their own way of managing an activity such as this so just do it whatever way makes sense in your school.
Assess outdoor amenities/resources in your area
One of the important parts of any Outdoor Club is really getting to know your local area and the opportunity it provides. Many people associate outdoor learning with far away field trips but the learning can start right on your doorstep. The first activity undertaken by your club can be to carry out an assessment of the local area (maybe your school grounds and its immediate surroundings) to map out what outdoor amenities or resources are nearby that could be used for your first outdoor experience.
Does your school have a green space or nearby park where you could get started with basic outdoor skills?
Are there outdoor organizations/agencies in your area that loan out materials/equipment? (e.g. Dept of Natural Resources, Park and Rec depts, County park services, watershed districts, environmental education centers)
Make a plan for the year
What skills, experiences, or outcomes do you want your Outdoor Club to provide for students? Involve your students in this exercise as then it will feel much more collaborative and they will feel more ownership of the Club.
1. Outdoor exploration and leaf pressing
2. Camping Skills 101
3. Movie Day
2. Water cycle
1. Scavenger hunt
2. Community mapping
3. Camping Skills 102
These are just a couple of ideas that you can begin to work with to come up with a plan for the year. The team at Wilderness Inquiry have already put together a curriculum for each season. Check out the Full Curriculum.
Community service/ environmental service project
When planning your activities, don't forget to build in a community service project. This will allow the kids to appreciate where the work you're doing fits into the broader social and environmental context and will help to foster a stewardship ethic in your students. Some potential projects you could include are: beautify a nearby green space, organize a trash pick up or invasive species removal.
As always, don't be afraid to give the kids input into designing this project as the more ownership they have the better!
Set up a year-end culminating experience for your club
A unique adventure experience is a great way to end the year for your club, giving the kids an opportunity to do something they've maybe never done before and also acting as a reward for their hard work all year.
Middle School Adventures: These can include 1/2-day paddle experiences in our 24′ handmade Voyageur Canoes, overnights in a local park, or multi-day adventures in a National or State Park. We adjust our programs and activities to meet the needs of middle school age youth.
High School Adventures: For high school students, our adventures take on a little different tone. These 1/2 day, overnight and multi-day adventures tend to be a little more action-oriented, may include service components, and lesson plans are adjusted accordingly. High school students may also take longer expeditions and study abroad opportunities.
Day Trip Options: There are also a variety of day trip options, including custom experiences to meet the needs of your group.