IVA starts school with a campout

IVA starts school with a campout
Posted on 09/11/2019
Playing the Red Solo Cup Relay.During the last week of August, students at Plumas Charter School’s Indian Valley Academy got ready to go back to school, with a twist: they headed to the campground instead of the classroom!

This is the ninth year that the school, which serves students in grades seven through 12 in Taylorsville, has started the year with a campout, said Ryan Schramel, teacher and site director for IVA. Staff and about 50 students camped at the Taylorsville Campground from Wednesday to Friday, with parents joining everyone for dinner Thursday night.

“The IVA back-to-school camping trip is an opportunity to integrate new students and allow students and staff to reconnect in a more open and less restrictive environment,” said Schramel.

Although the event has always been about team-building and getting to know each other, Schramel said that recently staff has designed activities “to be more deliberate towards instilling our school mission and values,” which are respect, compassion, responsiveness, and accountability. This fosters sustainable relationships and sets the foundation for school culture, he said.

Thus, one of the major activities this year was a workshop focusing specifically on the PCS mission and core values. Students divided into groups by grade, and teachers adjusted the context of their discussions accordingly, said Schramel.

“For example, the conversations I had with the seniors put them into a leadership role and we discussed how they would help the staff as student leaders,” he said.  

The senior group discussed how memorable figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and Mother Teresa all “operated from core values and had intent/purpose in what they were doing,” said Schramel. The concept that came out of this discussion was that “a person who doesn’t just internalize a set of core values but becomes the living embodiment of those values will become something bigger than themselves and inspire generations still to come.”  

Schramel then tied this idea into real-life skills by pointing out that employers and other organizations also operate under core values, and how people also adopt core values in their personal lives.

The campout schedule also included games like Hopscotch Rock-Paper-Scissors (“You had to be there,” said Schramel), relay races, tennis, volleyball, giant jump ropes, capture the flag, and Wiffle ball. Students also learned about school rules and success strategies through performing skits.

The staff, led by “executive chef” Veronica “Paula Deen” Tilton, went all out to feed everyone, including getting up at 5 a.m. to make biscuits and gravy from scratch.

Schramel said this year’s cohort of IVA students is “incredibly cohesive,” and that he and his staff look forward to a successful school year.

Plumas Charter School also operates learning centers in Quincy, Greenville, and Chester. For more information, call (530) 283-3851.

In the photo: Teamwork is the name of the game during Red Solo Cup Relay, one of the ways Indian Valley Academy students got to know each other during their back-to-school campout. From left: Jazmin Banks, Ryan Carpenter, Laura Lind, and Breanna Wilson. Photo by Pam Lyman