Eighth Graders Test Their Limits at Florida Elks Youth Camp

The eighth-grade field trip to Florida Elks Youth Camp in Umatilla gave students a chance to unwind and relax after what has been a great year of hard work. The trip focused on character, one of Montverde Academy’s core values, by helping them to better understand themselves, stretch their physical and mental limits, recognize their role within a team of their peers, and consider how their choices affect those around them.

Students rotated through a variety of activities, including a ropes course, archery, boating, swimming, canoeing, and beach volleyball. Mr. Scott Werner, the eighth-grade science teacher who was one of the chaperones, said, “These are all activities these kids don’t do very often: the rock-climbing wall, the ziplining, doing things that put you up at really high heights where you’re trying to combat your fears.”

When students arrived, they were split into smaller groups of 10. In each group, nine kids were always cheering on the one student who was trying to complete the challenge. “I was in the middle of all three groups, and they were all cheering on kids at the same time. It was good to see them helping each other out,” said Mr. Werner.

As the day progressed, students seemed to be developing more self-confidence as they conquered tasks that initially seemed impossible to them. “If you had told them they were going to climb up a really tall pole and walk across a wire to get to the zipline all by yourself, they would have probably thought, ‘I’m not going to do that.’ But then they did it,” said Mr. Werner. “When they came down off the zipline and it was over and they had finished the hard part, they had big smiles on their faces when they got down off the ladder. Conquering those things, I think it changed them, definitely for the day if not, hopefully, for some time to come.”

Mr. Werner said that he was so impressed with what the students were able to accomplish once he climbed the pole, walked across the wire, and did the zipline himself. “Once I got up there, I realized how scary it is. I was thinking, ‘I just watched 30 eighth-graders go across the wire. They all did this right there in front of me.”

There was a rock-climbing wall that Mr. Werner described as being taller than MVA’s bell tower. Mariana Bustamante Garcia was the one student who was able to make it all the way to the top with both arms over the top of the wall. “I felt so tired, and my forearms hurt so bad,” said Mariana. “But I felt accomplished.”

Here’s what a few of the other eighth graders had to say about their experience:

Daliya Mousa

“The eighth- grade field trip was such a unique experience to bond with friends and learn new skills. I learned how to do archery and never knew it was actually a hard thing to learn! It looked so easy in shows, but when doing it in real life, it was challenging!”

Brooke Burton

“I had a lot of fun at the Florida Elks Youth Camp. When we got there, we had to start by working together to complete a challenge. After that, we got to do many team building exercises, hang out with our friends, go swimming and canoeing, and do archery. It was a very fun field trip, and I learned a lot.”

Aleena Mousa

“The eighth-grade field trip was different. It gave my friends and me an opportunity to do activities I never thought I’d do like canoeing and archery. Canoeing in the morning while the air was crisp and the sun was arching over our heads was serene. From the video games I play or from the books I read, I never thought archery would require so much skill! It was fun to experience, and I hope future eighth graders would like this field tip as well.”

Jade Boochee

“I had such a good time at the Florida Elks Youth Camp. At first, I was worried that the field trip would be boring, but I’m so glad I went. The field trip was a good opportunity to bond with people you wouldn’t normally talk to and step out of your comfort zone. I got to try new activities like canoeing and archery, and fun, exciting things like rock climbing. From the refreshing pool to the playful volleyball game, there was always something to do and there was never a dull moment. I had a great time and am so glad that I went!”

Steffan Eksteen

“I was with my friends the whole trip and had a great time the whole time. The trip had several opportunities to see people’s strengths. If they had weaknesses, you could help them. Overall, it was a great field trip!”

Tank Chavous

“The Florida Elks Youth Camp taught us the importance of teamwork and communication with our peers. I really enjoyed the ropes courses and the physical challenge it gave us. My favorite activity was archery because it challenged my precision and accuracy. These events put our teamwork to the test because if our communication was off, then the group would fail. I think that this field trip taught us many valuable lessons and helped me grow as an individual. I thank Monteverde Academy for exposing me to this exciting adventure and hope to continue my growth on future endeavors.”