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North Hills fifth graders tackle team building, ecology at Camp Hanes

SALISBURY — North Hills Christian School fifth graders took a camping trip this weekend to learn about themselves and the natural world.

The trip to the YMCA’s Camp Hanes in Stokes County is a school tradition. During the previous school year, kids were not able to go on field trips. This one was the first of the school year.

Fifth grade teacher Leslie Hunsucker said the camp focuses on team building with school counselors along with some science thrown in.

For science, students took a closer look at the camp’s lake to decide if it was contaminated. Their conclusion: it was not. They figured that out by delving into the critters found in the lake. Students found a lot of frogs and, for the first time, some leeches.

Hunsucker said the animals in the lake are indicators of whether or not the water is contaminated. As a general rule, a perfectly clear lake with nothing living there is a bad sign, because that means nothing would survive in it.

Some of the kids were enthusiastic about playing in the lake and looking for animals. So, the staff had to reel them in a bit. Others screamed at the sight of anything moving. The squeamish kids opened up after a while.

“It is fun to watch the ones who are nervous about it and kind of stand back. Once they see the excitement in the other kids, it’s fun to watch them want to go see what they caught in their strainer and see if they can find one too once they realize that it’s not going to hurt and it’s fun,” Hunsucker said.

After the critters were collected, the kids looked at them under document cameras to get a better idea of what they had found.

North Hills Marketing and Communications Director Melissa Loveless said the school’s science teachers like to do as many hands-on projects as possible. It is not uncommon for students to end up working outside because of what they learned in the classroom, Loveless said.

The students were also learning about team building as they climbed ropes and took on the zip lines. Hunsucker said the trip is good for seeing some shy kids come out of their shells and others make interesting realizations about themselves.

One student realized he likes to be in control. This was an opportunity to talk to him about how to handle the inevitable times in his life when he won’t be in control of a situation.

Hunsucker said the trip brings students closer together and helps them be more tolerant of each other’s differences because they have to work through projects together.

“They will talk about it for the rest of the year,” Hunsucker said, adding a student who graduated last year mentioned as much when talking about the camp experience with her.

Parents go on the trip as well and have their own activities.

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