Students study nature in nature |

Students study nature in nature

by Teri Vance, Appeal Staff Writer
Rick Gunn photoEleven-year-old Samantha Rhine looks over a replica of a Native American bow while John Roos of the University of Nevada, Reno, cooperative extensive office displays a quiver and arrow Tuesday at Clear Creek Camp.

If Samantha Rhine had to live off the land, she would use a bow and arrow to kill a deer or a fox.

“I’d depend on myself,” the 11-year-old girl said. “I’d try to hunt for food.”

But she knows it wouldn’t be easy.

“I’m learning to shoot a bow and arrow,” she said. “It’s really hard.”

Sitting cross-legged in a clearing of pine trees with the dusty smell of fall in the air, a group of nearly 20 students brainstormed Tuesday ways to survive in nature.

John Roos, of the University of Nevada, Reno Cooperative Extension, displayed a variety of Native American artifacts — from weapons to baskets to a cradle board — to spark the children’s imaginations.

“I want to give them an appreciation of how people have used natural resources,” Roos said. “They can see the craftsmanship and the attention that has been paid. It’s a very effective way of survival.”

About 60 students will spend the week learning hands-on as part of the Great Basin Outdoor School at the Clear Creek Campground in Carson City.

Students came from Carson City’s Fremont Elementary School, Reno’s Mountain View Montessori and home-schooled students. A year-round school, Fremont Elementary School is not in session this week.

They spend their days learning about the environment and scientific skills, including water ecology and geology, that coincide with standards established by the state.

“I love for them to be out learning,” said Sue Jacox, a board member for the outdoor school. “We hope they’re learning to respect themselves and each other and the environment.”

Ben McDonald, a fifth-grader at Fremont Elementary School, attended the camp last year and was eager to return this year — especially for the night hike.

“I like just going out at night,” he said. “It’s spooky and I like that kind of stuff.”

Nanette Oleson, counselor at Fremont Elementary School, brought the first group of students to the outdoor school last year.

“It was such a powerful experience for the kids who were involved,” she said. “The kids take home a real value for the environment and an understanding for various scientific concepts.”

It piqued 10-year-old Tim Ocheltree’s interest in astronomy.

“There’s stars that look like a kite and one that looks like a triangle,” he said. “There used to be seven stars on the kite but now there’s only six because one faded away.”

For Caitlin Harrison, 8, it was a needed retreat.

“I was really excited to come here,” she said. “I have three annoying sisters. I was really glad to get away from them for four days.”