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Middle School Fun - Sibley Lake Style

posted Mar 15, 2021, 2:39 PM by Brenda Williams
After experiencing last weekend’s “spring ahead” of daylight savings and the return of balmy temperatures, we are all thinking about Spring. Even though all this seasonal change has many of us kicking our cabin fever in preparation for the excitement of April, May, and June in the Brainerd Lakes Area, it's important that we also reflect upon this unfortunate fact:

Children today spend less time outdoors than any generation in human history, devoting just four to seven minutes a day on average in unstructured outdoor play while spending an average of seven and a half hours every day in front of electronic media. (No Child Left Inside)

Certainly, the pandemic, distance learning, and a Schoology platform have unfortunately only added to the demands of screen time and a distancing from the outdoor world. Last week, PLMS made a move to invert that statistic. What started with a couple of middle school Social Studies teachers hanging out, talking about fun and engaging opportunities for kids turned into an amazing series of days on Sibley Lake.

From celebrating indigenous snow snake games to chasing the elusive Sibley Lake crappie, our kids found an abundance of fun and engaging activities out on the lake. Through a little “northwoods engineering” we also were able to compete in wood cookie curling, human dogsledding, and “smooshing” (you may have to Google that one). The kids had a blast, as evidenced by their smiles in the photos, but more importantly, they had an authentic learning experience, with a lot less structure, and a lot more freedom.

Gratitude should be extended to the volunteers who helped serve hot cocoa and set up the S’mores station. It was rewarding to watch the smiles on the faces of the moms, dads, and other special guests, who arguably had as much fun as the kids while helping to facilitate the fun. In addition to our volunteers, we also want to extend appreciation to the PLMS staff who rallied around the idea, helping to pull off back-to-back days of fun on the lake.

Without the planning of Mr. Bengtson (6th grade Social Studies) and the ideas of Mr. Fischer (5th grade Social Studies), this day would not have come together. Thank you to both of them, for advocating for our kids and for recognizing that quality learning experiences can happen outside the walls of the classroom. From the little things (like ordering porta-potties) to the logistical coordination of volunteers and resources, we say “thanks”. In addition, we’d like to thank Robert Engholm from the MN Darkhouse and Spearing Association, and Eric Sullivan from the MN DNR for sharing about their passions in the outdoors. And to John Janousek, Rapala, 13 Fishing, and Jason Barr from Tutt’s Bait for helping to provide the rods and tackle to help kids to have an amazing experience. Lastly, thank you to the Sibley Lake Association members who granted us the green light to utilize this great local resource.

As the weather warms, we’re excited about the prospects of getting our kids outside exploring and continuing to try to find balance in time on tech and time outdoors.

-- Mike O'Neil, Middle School Principal