Apollo students take teamwork to ‘Challenges’

October 5, 2010

By Laura Geggel

Apollo Elementary School fifth-grader Spencer Slaton (right) protects his face with his hands as classmate Zach Marucheck tries to throw a Hula Hoop around him during an obstacle course at Challenges Northwest. By Laura Geggel

Ten Apollo Elementary School fifth-graders wearing raincoats held onto a looped rope and, on the count of three, leaned back at the same time.

“Good job, I’m really impressed,” Challenges Northwest course facilitator Paul Bland said.

He asked the students how one person in the circle could affect the rest of the group. The students were quick to answer, pointing out that if one person leaned too far back, he would pull the circle out of balance.

Bland connected the outdoor activity to the classroom, asking, “What are some things that might distract you at school?”

“Another person goofing off,” Vanessa Kwong said.

Students need to trust and respect each other, Bland said, so he asked the students to hold tight to the rope and lean back again, but this time with their eyes closed.

The students did it flawlessly, but giggled when they opened their eyes and started tugging at the rope, turning their circle into a series of shapes.

More than 80 of Apollo’s fifth-grade students went on the fieldtrip to Challenges Northwest Sept. 27 and 28, an outdoor teambuilding camp in Snoqualmie. For the past six years, course facilitators have set up several teambuilding activities for Apollo students, teaching them about communication, respect, working together and having fun, even if they were in the rain.

“It’s great. It’s outside. Fifth-graders need to run,” parent chaperone Dan Slaton said. “So far, they are doing good activities and learning how to interact with each other with some teamwork and some friendly competition.”

In the morning, students played ice-breaking games. Isaiah Kim said he liked playing rock-paper-scissors with his classmates.

After group activities in the morning, students were assigned to groups of 10 and mixed with fifth-graders from different classes, which helped the entire grade get to know one other.

At one station, students had to cross a dirt field by stepping on felt squares. If a square were vacant, an adult would take it away, making the field harder to cross. As the clock ran, students yelled tips to their classmates to deter course facilitator Rob McJunkin from taking away the squares.

Suzannah Beeman did a quick double jump, planting her feet on two squares to prevent McJunkin from collecting them.

“I will time you again, but remember, speed is not the issue, teamwork is,” McJunkin said.

Apollo Elementary School students Junyong Jung, Graham Wrightson, Maddie Prather, Solomon Knapp and Elias Bautista-Silva (from left) work on a teambuilding challenge. By Laura Geggel

At another station, students used half-pipes to create a course for a marble to travel safely from one end of the room to the other. In the main cabin, students played mountain man ball, a game similar to volleyball.

Kim said he liked mountain man ball the best, because “it involves the most moving and I like ball games.”

At a muddy station among the trees, students did an elaborate obstacle course together.

“In order to have good teamwork, we have to communicate and learn everyone’s names,” Hope Fujinaga said.

As students ran around the woods of Snoqualmie, Bland said he hoped they would be able to connect lessons learned at Challenges Northwest with school behavior.

“It’s how to cooperate with each other and work together,” he said. “Hopefully, it carries on to the classroom, the listening to each other and sharing ideas.”

Fifth-grade MERLIN teacher Karen DeBruler said the field trip was pivotal in helping children learn about working together in a nonacademic setting.

“At each of the stations, they reinforce listening to each other, taking turns talking, being respectful and trying out ideas,” DeBruler said.

The day of fun did come at a cost. Students paid $32 to attend, although the Apollo Elementary School PTA offered scholarships for students and paid for the bus transportation to Challenges Northwest.

Emma Cunningham said she enjoyed playing outside with her friends.

“We’re learning how to work with a group and have good strategies,” she said.

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or lgeggel@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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One Response to “Apollo students take teamwork to ‘Challenges’”

  1. matt miller on October 9th, 2010 2:49 pm

    hey i know paul bland

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