Taj Mahmood's class:
Nature's Classroom Institute (N.C.I.) is a beautiful outdoor learning environment. It is a fun experience and a place where students learn to explore and grow. Students learn more than just math and language; they know all about teamwork, nature, and our environment. We learn about universal respect. Universal respect is respect for all, insects, animals, and most importantly ourselves. Students also learn to make good choices in life. We learn to live in the moment. There are many activities where the students learn to communicate, work together, and learn how to use natural resources. N.C.I. is a great place where kids can have fun. It is an educational place for students to build friendships, learn about our planet, and share ideas.
This year, we learned about Ort, an old English word for waste. Ort is any food you decide to put on your plate but choose not to eat it. It is a great way to remind the students to make good choices for food and life. Ort is all about being aware of your decisions. Overall, N.C.I. is a great experience that everyone should take part in.
De Leon's class (Madeline D. & Elaine P.):
N.C.I. is a life-changing experience that makes you appreciate nature more. When we got to N.C.I., Jeffrey (an instructor) split us into cabin groups. The cabin groups are Brazos, Crockett, Austin, Houston, and Lamar. We got to see our cabins and make our beds. On the first day, we were divided into our field groups. Field Groups are around 8–10 children, where you can explore nature and get lessons at the same time. On the second day, our afternoon activity was something called Survival Games. During Survival Games we split up into groups of 4–5 people and set out on a quest to find food (Bandanas), fire, water, and shelter. At every meal, there was a waitron, the waitron's job was to get the food, set up the table, allow people to be dismissed, and present the ort report. The Ort Report’s purpose is to measure the amount of food that was wasted. The Pony Express was our second nightly activity, where there were two teams: the Bandits, and the Messengers. The Bandits had to attempt to steal the messenger's horses. It was so much fun! In conclusion, N.C.I. was amazing!
Xu & Prevot's class:
This year's N.C.I. was so memorable! Our field group got to explore so many new experiences, from playing in the creek, to exploring the woods, and even fishing in the lake. Not only did they just show us nature, they also showed us how to impact the environment positively. They also gave awareness to the amount of food waste that our community wastes per meal. In general, I had so much fun over my three-day N.C.I. trip. The counselors were so creative in the games and activities that we did, and I had a very good experience because of them.
Sofia E. & Jehan W.
Our N.C.I. trip this year was full of good experiences. We got to go to the creek and the pond, and we were able to see deer, crayfish, water snakes, and frogs. At N.C.I. we had field groups, and each field group had different people from different classes, so we had the opportunity to meet new people. What we liked best was the games we played in our field groups as well as the large group activities. The counselors were the best, and we loved how they cared so much about nature, they also taught us how to be more mindful about our environment. During meal time we weighed our food waste, and our goal was to get it down to 3 pounds. At night we did night activities as a group, and on the last night of N.C.I. we had s’mores.
Although everything was enjoyable, I am going to write about what I thought was the most fun out of them all - the fire class. In the fire class, we started by heading to some shade and sitting down while the instructor Jeffrey explained the common ways multiple fires start. He brought a non-flammable bowl, and he proceeded to fill it with sand and put matches in it. He then lit one match and moved it toward the others, making the others catch fire, demonstrating a forest fire but on a small scale. After the demonstration, we went to a fire pit where we gathered nearby materials to make a fire. After a few failed attempts, we succeeded and made a fire that lasted pretty long without maintenance. While the fire was going, we all just kind of stared at it until we had to go.
We did a lot of really fun activities including hiking, going to the creek, and even snake hunting. I touched a crawfish for the first time, got to hold a frog and saw a fair amount of live deer and animal skeletons. We were divided into groups with people from different classes each day, but we did get to choose one separate activity that we wanted to do too. Through these activities, the N.C.I. staff taught us how to positively impact nature and the world around us. After each meal, we measured all the food we chose to put on our plate but didn’t eat. This helped us make better choices with our food. The N.C.I. counselors were nice and taught us a lot. Overall, I really enjoyed this experience.
This is my very first trip to N.C.I. and I found the experience enjoyable. In the first class I took, we did “Art without Paint”, and we walked with our bare feet in the creek, where we made art using the objects we found lying around, such as leaves, clay, rocks, and sticks. I honestly preferred the process over the result, because interacting with elements of nature was a rare and exciting experience for me. I also enjoyed our meals, not only the food but also the trivia question games afterward. I wish I could have had a chance to raise my trivia question to the whole group, but I guess I’ll have to save it for the next trip!