The WOODS Manual!
The Center Leader Notebook
Wilderness Outdoor Opportunities for Durham Students
From WOODS Training Manual 1994-1995
Justin McCorcle and Tes Rivera
Increase Self Confidence
A main objective of WOODS is to develop increased self- confidence and esteem in the children by helping them to meet new challenges and experiences. With the success of each outing, they learn something new about themselves and their abilities, taking pride in their accomplishments. Being young, and often poor, many of these children live in a world that breeds social dependency, low expectations, and a lack of caring responsible role models. Spending time in the outdoors can be an extremely valuable experience for them because they can get away from the pressures of social expectations and the fear of being judged. Nature is equally graceful and open to everyone regardless of class, gender, age, and race and therefore provides an opportunity to explore and express ones own uniqueness. Although the outdoors belong to all of us, it is a somewhat foreign setting. Here, both Duke and Durham community members are displaced, breaking down barriers and making us all more idealistically equal. The wilderness serves as a place for a fresh beginning where these kids can both recognize their obstacles and evaluate their actions. The WOODS leaders facilitate this process by setting high expectations, continually giving support, and offering praise when appropriate. Although it would be easier to put up a tent or carry the bulk of the gear on a hike by ourselves, allowing the kids to do it will give them an accomplishment of which they can be proud. Allowing the opportunity for achievement in new areas may draw out children who have not been as successful in previously encountered activities.
Foster Positive Leadership Structures
The WOODS experience should also foster positive leadership structures and social interactions between the children and staff, within the staff, and especially within themselves. For these kids, behavior control is often more predominant than individual development. Rarely do they have the need or opportunity to work together as a group and mutual respect is often low. At the same time, good social skills are probably the most important skills these kids need because as they fail individually, as everyone does at some point, strong ties with family and friends become the backbone of survival. Leaders focus on improvement in this area by giving exercises where group cooperation is necessary.
Leadership and Authority
Children often see leadership as a struggle for power. They rarely make any distinctions between leadership and authority. The interactions between leaders-leaders and leaders-kids can set an example of the responsibilities involved for each side. The outing can also offer a chance for the children to lead their peers in a structured setting with immediate and significant consequences. For example, if they fail to work together to prepare a meal correctly, they will be the ones who will eat the consequences.
WOODS has a commitment to improving environmental awareness. We are, in fact supported by Duke's Environmental Alliance. For most of the children, the outdoors is an unfamiliar setting. They are unaccustomed to environmental values, or, for that matter, any set of values other than those with which they have grown up. It is hardly surprising to see any kid litter, waste resources, or tear apart a tree for no reason. For these kids, in particular, this is simply the norm for them. They need to be informed and educated in a nonjudgmental way, or, even better, discover for themselves, the behavior necessary for being in the outdoors. We aim to show them how to appreciate the wilderness in a low-impact manner and inform them regarding what they can do to preserve our Earth.
Recreation and Adventure
The recreational experience is an obvious component of each activity as well as being the chief reason the kids are eager to participate in the program. Although some kids seem to be able to have fun anywhere, many youth at this point in development are bored and looking for new experiences. WOODS is a positive outlet for this explorative age. Wilderness outings enhance an appreciation of the outdoors. We stress that the heart of camping is more than just a set of skills and equipment. Rather, outdoor activities allow us to enjoy the freedom of nature and to explore an environment which is very different from our usual surroundings. We teach them that they can have fun without batteries, television, expensive technology ...In fact, we have found that the mere novelty of the experience can make everyday chores, such as washing dishes, a fun activity. Adventure, for the purpose of outdoor programming, is mostly a state of mind. If the kids think that they are taking a risk or doing something far from their ordinary experience, it is an adventure. With the proper introduction and enthusiasm from the leaders, almost any experience an be turned into an adventure.
Teaching our Kids
As WOODS members, we find ourselves in a position to provide meaningful education to our kids. We must take advantage of this position, and to do so we need to understand effective teaching strategies. This section of the manual will provide lots of questions and a few answers that should be considered in any teaching environment such as ours.
Before we enter into a learning environment, we should evaluate our own expectations of what education is and how it can best be achieved. We come from environments that place a great deal of emphasis on schooling as the "proper" form of education. Our families encouraged us to read, write, and do our homework. We know everything that we are supposed to know --and yet we know very little about education as a universal concept. The participants in the WOODS program did not have the same type of education that we did. They have had different cultural experiences, and they have a different outlook on the "education" system that caters to white middle class students. All of us receive education, in one way or another; these kids do not lack educational opportunity, they simply lack the kinds of opportunities that we had. At this, point, I find it necessary to offer two warnings. First, it is not right to assume that our educational opportunities were/are "better" than the opportunities presented to these kids. Second, we must not assume that we know the kinds of things that they should want to know. We know how to get ahead in this country because we, in a very real sense, run this country. We must not try to teach our kids what they "need" to know to "get ahead" in the world. Rather, we should realize that their experiences and knowledge are important; we must learn what they know as we share our knowledge. Great advances in world history are rarely the product of individual research; more often, they are the result of communication and shared knowledge. We need to share, not teach. Teaching, then, is not always best accomplished in a classroom environment. In the WOODS program, we have the wilderness as a classroom, a place where none of us feels at home. We have the opportunity to use our natural environment as a teaching tool. If we present education to our participants in new ways, they will learn without knowing that they are being taught. Instead of inserting "educational" activities into our trips, we should strive to make our entire trip educational and fun at the same time.
WOODS is an exercise in cooperative learning. We place very little emphasis on the individual; rather, we emphasize the 'ways in which that individual is an important member of our group. Individuals are encouraged to take responsibilities and to take on leadership positions within the group, which builds both self-esteem and peer relationships. In essence, every WOODS activity should have some elements of cooperative learning. However, we need to insure that the experience is a good one for all involved. Therefore, the following guidelines may be helpful when planning and evaluating cooperative learning:
1) Positive Interdependence --The kids must feel that they need one another to accomplish their goal. Some methods for achieving positive interdependence: a) mutual goals, b) joint rewards, c) shared resources, d) assigned roles.
2) Face-to-Face Promotive Interaction --The kids help each other by sharing, explaining, discussing, and encouraging in a face-to-face group setting.
3) Individual Accountability --Each child must have some sense of responsibility for her/his own actions and the actions of the group (this one can be really hard for WOODS groups).
4) Interpersonal and Small Group Skills --In order to have effective groups, we must help the kids develop communication skills.
5) Group Processing --The kids must be constantly aware of how they are doing. In WOODS activities, positive reinforcement usually works best. Cooperative learning works very well in WOODS outings. It's surprising how well the kids respond to such activities. For added ideas about cooperative learning activities, see Appendix C (This appendix is still under construction).
1. Combine a mixture of enthusiasm, commitment, and your own unique creativity to draw in the participants.
2. Don't label everything (give names to all the trees etc...). Let the participants get the feel for what something is through the use of their senses.
3. Ask rather than telling. Guide the kids into the answers with observation and questions to spark their minds, such as: "Do you know why birds might build nests?"
4. Never criticize answers.
5. Become a child yourself --see things from their point of view.
6. Participate as fully as they do.
7. Never say "never". State all instructions in a positive manner. For example, instead of "Don't litter", say "Always put your trash in a trash can" (unless it's recyclable, of course).
8. Children are full of imagination, creativity, and play. Take hints from them and follow them.
Speaking to the Group
It is important that the WOODS participants find the staff approachable and friendly, but at the same time we must make them feel that they are being led by competent hands. There are several things that a staff member should keep in mind when addressing the group in order to get the best possible response. Make sure that everyone in the group can see or hear you. Sitting (or standing) in circles helps prevent participants' attention from straying. The quieter or less interested children will not be able to hide behind their more vocal/visible peers. In this same regard, all the staff should show each other the attention that they expect the kids to give. If another staff member is speaking, then all staff not otherwise occupied should participate fully with the kids, sitting in their circle rather than standing in the back. If the staff doesn't pay attention to the reading then how can a child be expected to do otherwise. Listen attentively to whoever is speaking, be it child or staff. Everyone has something of value to share. Try to respond positively to statements and questions. Their inquisitiveness is enthusiasm. Negative comments should be inquired about and reacted to as feedback. Don't become angry. Instead, ask what should be done as a resolution. When you must use an imperative try to phrase your statements positively. Use "always" or "please" rather than "never" or "don't." Talk at the level of your audience. Remember that they are younger than yourself and cannot be expected to understand everything that you do. Pace yourself while speaking. Don't ramble on. Time is valuable and attention spans are limited. Keep them interested by your enthusiasm and friendliness. Wait until everyone is quiet and listening before speaking. Ask them if they can hear what is being said. If necessary have another youth repeat instructions. Listening to each other teaches respect and should always be encouraged. Being listened to builds self-esteem. The Navajo tradition of passing the "feather" at a pow-wow can be implemented to assure than only one person speaks at a time (the person with the feather). If a conflict within the kids, or between the staff and kids, arises do your best to help resolve the matter peacefully. First define the problem. Ask not "what happened?" but "what did you do?" if it is an offense of this sort. Try to establish what the differences and similarities in opinion are. Most likely the conflicting parties will have more in common than not. Keep in mind that when their is a problem that it is "you and me versus the problem," not "you versus me." In this manner they can work together to eliminate the difference. Remind the parties in conflict that this is not personal and that they can agree on a compromise if necessary.
The coordinators of each outing are responsible for taking reasonable precautions to protect the safety of themselves and the group.
* At the beginning of each year make sure to obtain information regarding basic and special health needs of the children as well as emergency phone numbers.
* There will be 2 first-aid kits on each outing. The coordinators are responsible for designating a staff member who will be in charge of these at all times. Whenever possible, there should be a staff member present who is trained in first-aid, CPR, etc. and the trip coordinators are also responsible for knowing who these people are.
* Coordinators are responsible for knowing the location of the hospital nearest the outing site.
* The trip coordinator should have a city or local Durham contact to call in case of emergency. This person should have the children's emergency contact numbers.
* There should always be at least two vehicles present. In the event of an emergency requiring the removal of a group participant, two staff members will accompany the injured party. One will stay with the victim. The other will make the necessary phone calls and drive back to the site if necessary.
* In the event of an emergency, be calm and reassuring to the victim. Be calm yourself. At the start of trips, remind the children to be calm and to gi ve the victim space in the event of an accident. Staff should have distractive activity planned to minimize the excitement caused to the victim by peers.
* No child should ever be alone. Always know where every participant is. Make sure every participant has a whistle.
* Steer clear of avoidably dangerous situations without taking the fun out of adventure. Prevention is the key to safety.
FIRST AID FOR:
1. Minor cuts, scratches, scrapes --Wash with soap and water , disinfectant if available, cover with a bandage.
2. Bumps --Have participant rest quietly and apply ice if necessary. In case of severe bump (symptoms: loss of color, nausea, vomiting, lack of normal motor control), call 911 or take victim to hospital.
3. Black Widow Spider bite --Apply a constricting band above the injection site (between site and heart). Apply loose enough to be able to slip your index finger under the band. Keep the affected part below heart level. Call or take victim to the hospital.
4. Bee sting --Remove stinger by scraping it out (don't pinch). Apply ice if swelling occurs. If victim is known to be allergic or
becomes violently ill (nausea, severe swelling) use bee sting kit and call 911 or take victim to hospital.
5.Snake Bite --Restrict movement of the participant. Keep them calm and preferably lying down. Immobilize the extremity below the heart. Don't apply ice. Call 911 or take victim to hospital.
6. Bad cuts, broken bones, unconscious, etc... --Apply direct pressure to stop bleeding. Cover participant. Keep them calm. Call 911 or take victim to hospital.
1. An Introduction (Abby Horn)
2. The Center Leader (Joe Picoraro)
3. Objectives (Justin McCorcle and Tes Rivera)
4. A Perspective (Maggie Schneider)
5. A List of Activities (Abby Horn) [See full pdf version]
6. Arts and Crafts Ideas (Julie Griffin)
7. Conflict Intervention Strategies (from Camp Ketcha) [See full pdf version]
9. Permission Slip (a .doc file)