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School embracing outdoors with 'Adventure PE' for students recognized as Cool School of the Week

Posted at 8:56 AM, Sep 13, 2023

PARK CITY, Utah — Cool School of the Week is BACK at FOX 13 News and we're recognizing schools across the state that are taking unique approaches to educating Utah students.

At the Weilenmann School of Discovery in Park City, Physical Education is taken to a new level with "Adventure PE."

"Every Friday we get to take a group of eight students in our mobile classroom or as we like to call it, MOBY, and we go adventure around the Park City area," explained Cam Raguse, an instructor at the school.

Put the dodge-balls down! Adventure PE is focused on getting students out into Utah's outdoors and teaching them real wilderness skills.

"We're wrapping up paddle boarding right now at the Deer Valley ponds and next week we're starting rock climbing," Raguse explained.

Kwaku, a student at the school, recalled his favorite adventure, saying he loved hiking up a nearby mountain and building a snow fort.

"My favorite part is traveling all around Park City," Kwaku said, "I get to see new things around here and we get to do fun stuff."

The adventures all contribute to the school's larger mission of embracing the outdoors.

"The school believes in embracing nature and the outdoors enhances education," Raguse said. "It adds not only to the curriculum and what they're learning, but they're learning beyond what's the curriculum. They're learning social skills, backcountry skills."

On Wednesday, a group of students began an adventure into the forest, piling into MOBY with anticipation for the journey ahead.

"Today we've got kids from sixth, seventh and eighth grades," explained Nathan Florence, an educator at the school. "They might not necessarily be in the same classes together but we hope that helps build the community of the school."

As the adventurers headed out to their spot, they got a quick history lesson at the Historic Stone Bridge from the Lincoln Highway. Then the students were given materials to learn how to build a fire without matches.

Madison said her technique was all in the "flick of the wrist" as she used a tool to create sparks and hopefully light a piece of dryer lint coated in Vaseline on fire.

"It's really flammable," she explained "It helps the sparks catch it easier."

While the journey may seem like all fun and games, Florence says it's about an immersive type of education and making learning fun.

"The idea of the mobile classroom, the fact that we're out here, most of the time the kids, you know halfway through they say, 'I'm so glad we're not in school,' and I say, 'but we are!'" He said. "If we had the ability, I would be out here every day with kids," "Kids being outside in nature, learning, this is real education."