For 40 years, Plano Independent School District (ISD) engages in a curriculum that allows all their 5th graders to attend a three day Outdoor Learning Camp. Each fall, with the help of parent volunteers, approximately 4,000 students attend this camp located in Anna, TX, and engage in Science and Social Studies learning exercises while enjoying nature. A tuition-based program, the school district has more than 1,000 students every year that need assistance so that they are able to participate in this learning extravaganza, in which many lessons are supported throughout the rest of the school year.
The Plano ISD Education Foundation is a nonprofit organization that funds programs like 5th grade Outdoor Learning Camp and other enrichment programs for Plano ISD through donations from companies, employees, teachers, and other individuals in the community. For the past five years, the Foundation has provided tuition assistance through scholarships and has helped students attend the camp. In 2014–2015, more than 1,000 students needed tuition assistance and the Foundation supported 281 of them through a contribution of $50,000.
The results of Outdoor Learning Camp are a win-win! Not only does it support the school district’s Science and Social Studies curriculum but the learning is impactful. As one teacher said, “We will revisit a concept we learned at camp months from now, and the kids have instant access to that knowledge. The learning done at camp stays with them long after camp is over.”
The Outdoor Learning Camp is a great place to learn, enjoy nature and be active outdoors. For many students, it is the first time that they will try shooting an arrow, paddling a canoe and catching (and releasing) a fish.
For more information on the 5th grade Outdoor Learning Camp and other programs supported by the PISD Education Foundation, visit pisd.edu/about.us/foundation/.