The school is more than just a camp-like setting. It's a science and environmental program that is part of the middle school program of studies.
Students at Outdoor School experience environmental issue investigation. They identify issues, ask questions, collect data, draw conclusions about the data and take action. On Thursday, many of the teachers and students got their hands dirty taking action on an issue they had identified.
For the week they attend, students are separated into groups of about 20 and a couple of those groups decided to take shovels and clippers to invasive plants on Thursday.
Chad Vasquenza and Grayson Eller, sixth-graders at Mount Airy Middle School, used shovels to remove pokeweed, which is a perennial herb that is native to eastern North America and cultivated throughout the world.
Though pokeweed is a native plant, it is invasive and takes over large areas, Chad said.
Grayson said it's important to take out invasive and non-native plants because it benefits the environment.
"It affects the whole food web," he said.
Another group of students went to the wetlands classroom to see a demonstration about how development affects water runoff. Using a model so they could see the process first-hand, students saw that when a forest is are replaced with houses, landfills, schools and farms, a nearby stream gets polluted.
Matthew Geiger, sixth-grader at Mount Airy Middle, said Outdoor School has been a really fun experience. He loved spending the week out in nature.
"You learn so many things you never could have imagined," he said.
The sixth-grade teachers from the children's home school also attend Outdoor School when their students go. The experience is a way to get to know their students in a different environment.
"Sometimes we see leaders emerge who do not open up in the classroom," Linda Blizzard said, sixth-grade social studies teacher at Mount Airy Middle.
Outdoor School also recruits local high school students to be counselors. Liz Woodruff, from Manchester Valley High School, said she loved getting to know all the girls in her group and learning more environmental knowledge. She attended Outdoor School when she was in sixth grade.
One of her group members, Mount Airy Middle School sixth-grader Leann Gomez, said she loved participating in a confidence course and the night hikes.
"It's really fun because you never know what you'll see," she said.