At Residential Treatment Center for Troubled Teens, Students Become Teachers During Program's First Outdoor Classroom

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Fourteen students at Island View Residential Treatment Center take the classroom to the campground at the center's first summer Outdoor Classroom.

It also taught me to be patient and learn how to grab people's attention.

Five girls at Island View Residential Treatment Center became teachers during the center's first summer Outdoor Classroom, held Aug. 23-26 in Flaming Gorge, Utah.

For the first time since the class was created two years ago, students were tasked with planning and preparing the trip and the curriculum. Their responsibilities included researching possible campgrounds, determining a budget for food and gas, planning a presentation topic, and preparing handouts and lesson plans.

The girls, ages 13 to 17, presented lessons on topics that included astronomy, photography, dinosaurs and biology. The girls also created hands-on activities for students, providing cameras to take pictures and acting as tour guides at the nearby Dinosaur National Monument.

'Learning is All Around Us'

"Most of our students are already at a level where they appreciate school and like to learn and experience new things," said Judi Jacques, M.Ed., Island View's academic director. "Outdoor Classroom shows them that learning doesn't just happen within the four walls of a classroom. Learning is all around us."

Jacques and Island View teacher Chad Sanders created the concept for Outdoor Classroom as a way to get students reengaged in learning and school. The class is usually offered as an elective during the school year, with two trips scheduled each semester.

"We wanted to experiment with different ways to get kids interested in learning and school, and to apply what they learned to different situations," Jacques said. "It can help them reengage in learning and motivate them, and find something that interests them that they didn't realize interested them."

Making Connections, Changing Lives

Since its inception, about 85 students have participated in the Outdoor Classroom. Past lessons have included Native American history and culture, biology, geometry, art, geology, Spanish and communication. But the students often learn more than just what was taught in the curriculum.

"It was cool to see 14 girls come together, work together and actually want to learn," said Vivien F., a 14-year-old student at Island View who taught photography during the August Outdoor Classroom. "It also taught me to be patient and learn how to grab people's attention."

Though 14 girls attended the class, only five were actually enrolled for credit. The remaining nine girls were selected for the trip based on interviews. But even the non-enrolled girls had jobs to do during the Outdoor Classroom.

Ellen V., a 16-year-old student at Island View, applied to go on the trip because she was interested in learning in a camp environment. While there, she was in charge of the fire pit, but she learned more than just how and when to light a fire.

"It taught me to be able to reach out to people for extra help, and to look at things differently," she said. "It provided an environment to bond with people while learning as well."

The first Outdoor Classroom of the 2009-2010 school year will take place Sept. 8 to 11 in Moab, Utah. The trip will be for boys, and will focus on a curriculum of history and science. Girls will make the same trip sometime in October.

About Island View

Island View is a residential treatment center for adolescents ages 13 to 18 that focuses on helping students determine their strengths, abandon self-defeating behaviors, and understand their unique issues and gifts. The center provides students with an accredited academic program while giving them access to top-of-the-line chemical dependency treatment, recreational activities and onsite psychiatric services. Since 1994, Island View programs have provided clinically sophisticated guidance and support to teens. For more information about Island View, call (866) 952-7930 or visit

Island View is a proud member of CRC Health Group, the most comprehensive network of specialized behavioral care services in the nation. CRC offers the largest array of personalized treatment options, allowing individuals, families and professionals to choose the most appropriate treatment setting for their behavioral, addiction, weight management and therapeutic education needs. CRC is committed to making its services widely and easily available, while maintaining a passion for delivering advanced treatment. For over two decades, CRC programs have helped individuals and families reclaim and enrich their lives. For more about CRC Health, visit

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