Off-Campus Trips Offer Expanded Learning Opportunities

Off-Campus Trips Offer Expanded Learning Opportunities

Wellington strongly believes that student travel is a powerful educational tool. Stepping outside the classroom, for field trips and overnight trips, helps subjects come alive. It’s one thing to read about the size of a titanosaur, a herbivore that is estimated to have weighed 80 tons, and another to visit the Ohio Center of Science and Industry (COSI) to stand next to an eight-foot titanosaur femur. Exploring content through experiences, objects, and locations makes the intangible real.

Off-campus learning opportunities also provide students a chance to demonstrate and cultivate other skills, including communication and social skills. What should you do if your roommate is being too loud? How do you navigate being a good travel partner? How should you respond if your roommate can’t tolerate you leaving clothes on the floor? Being able to express yourself and your needs and preferences will serve students throughout their time at Wellington and beyond. 

From first-grade swimming lessons to Wellington International Student Experiences (WISE) – Wellington invites students to leave the building and explore.

Lower School

This spring, first grade students made a splash at Goldfish Swim School as part of their annual tradition of swim lessons. During the five sessions, students participated in water safety classes, swim lessons, and free play in the water. As students swam, they not only developed water safety and swim skills, but they also gained confidence in learning and practicing a new skill. 

Many small children fear swimming and open water – the water seems deep and mysterious and they lack confidence in their ability to swim to safety. During water safety discussions, students were able to talk calmly and knowledgeably about how to make safe decisions in a new and potentially uncomfortable environment. 

This yearly tradition teaches students responsibility and independence. Tasked with managing their swimming gear and changing into and out of swimsuits independently, this trip encourages students to practice life skills. 

For Mary Beth Parker, her biggest joy was witnessing the changes in students’ confidence. With each visit, students slowly become more willing to jump in. Even once hesitant students are ready to dive in for some fun. 

Middle School

In early May, eighth grade students traveled to the Windy City. While in Chicago, students visited the Field Museum, watched a Cubs game at Wrigley Field, took in a Blue Man Group concert, and cheered for knights at Medieval Times. 

Historically, the eighth grade has traveled to Toronto, Canada. Unable to do that this year, the eighth-grade team picked Chicago because of the unparalleled cultural experiences one can enjoy in the city, from museums to architecture to authentic international cuisines. For Simon Leadston P ’36, middle school science teacher, this trip provides experiences faculty cannot create on campus. 

Faculty designed the trip to foster independence and interpersonal problem-solving skills and to stretch students’ comfort zones. “Adolescents want to get into their comfort zones. It’s a time of knowing your people and place. But if you stay there, your zone shrinks over time,” said Leadston. “We want students to grow their comfort zones.”

It’s also an opportunity to bond as a grade. During their evening at Medieval Times, students were assigned knights to root for. Whether supporting the green or blue knights, students came together with enthusiasm, energy, and loud cheers. It was a moment for community and many kids endorsed the experience to faculty after the trip

Upper School

Wellington International Student Experience (WISE) is designed to provide meaningful international travel to cultivate resilience, problem-solving, empathy, and respect for other cultures. In an ever-globalized world, these skills are necessary for success in college and beyond. 

To prepare for travel in 11th grade, 10th grade students enroll in Global Engagement, where they work to develop an understanding of the logistical and intellectual preparation involved in successful global travel, build intercultural communication skills, and recognize connections between contemporary issues and local realities. 

In the spring of 2023, students in the classes of 2023 and 2024 will participate in the program’s inaugural year. Recently, trip locations were announced to nine international locations. 

Before filling out their request forms, students watched presentations on each of the excursions. Chaperones shared the purpose of the trip and their intended itinerary, and answered questions on accommodations, transportation, and duration. 

For WISE’s inaugural year, the options span a variety of continents and themes. For next year’s trips, rising juniors and seniors can choose to go to Bonaire to study marine biology and scuba dive; to Mexico to explore Mexican food, history, and culture; or to Denmark to learn about conservation. 

Everyone has a favorite field trip memory, whether that was visiting the Capitol or trekking in a nearby state park. Field trips enrich and expand curriculum, immerse students in sensory experiences, increase knowledge, and expand awareness of their own communities and others. Wellington provides opportunities for students to make their own memories and experience moments of deeper learning.