Why Outdoor Lab “Rocks”!


Students at outdoor lab enjoying the flag ceremony.

When I went to the outdoor lab, it was a life-changing experience. Not only did it inspire a future career in the outdoors and maybe in teaching, but it also taught me a lot about myself as a high school leader. 

Outdoor labs provide new experiences for people and provide new perspectives that are normally hard to come by when you live in a city. I have already signed up to be a leader at Windy Peak another week, and I plan on doing the internship after I graduate. 

You would never expect someone like me who takes an hour to do their makeup every morning and always has their nails done to love Outdoor Lab as much as I did, but it was a truly fantastic experience. I truly believe anyone, and I mean anyone, who has the opportunity to attend Outdoor Lab should take it. As a sixth grader  or a high school leader, take the chance because you might be like me and find you love it. 

Some may  think of outdoor schooling as some sort of hippie propaganda, but when you look at the facts, outdoor education has a lot of really great benefits for students including helping with symptoms of ADHD and improving their grades overall. There are many benefits to someone attending and/or sending their child to outdoor schooling– so many I can’t even count. 

According to an article from Parenting Science, learning outdoors can improve kids’ anxiety and lower their stress levels, and it can even lower symptoms of ADHD. Learning outdoors can also improve children’s connection to nature and teach them the importance of saving the environment. The benefits of outdoor learning go beyond just the students, and beyond to the world around us.

When learning outdoors, students become more engaged and focused once they have a tangible thing to go along with their learning. Many students feel trapped when in a classroom which can lead to an inability or refusal to learn. Grades, temperament, emotion, and more all improve when students are engaged with nature.  Not only does it improve their academic performance in school, but it can also improve their knowledge on survival with things like what to do when lost in nature, safe foods to eat, and so much more.  

At the Jeffco Outdoor Lab specifically, they offer classes in ecosystems, archery, leave-no-trace, and the history of each lab’s site. There is also astronomy night and many other learning opportunities in the short week that the sixth graders visit. The people at outdoor lab are always incredibly passionate, from the founders to the high school leaders. 

The benefits of Outdoor Lab are not confined to just the sixth graders who get to go. The high school leaders also benefit. I talked to sophomores Graycee Cline and Donavin Blair, who attended the outdoor lab in October of 2022, and both of them said they had a great time and would love to go back. Cline even went as far as to say “it was one of the best experiences of my life so far and I hope to do it again some time.” 

I talked to the two even more about how they saw Outdoor Lab affecting the kids, and they both claimed that it helped a lot. They told me that they saw some of the most difficult kids get really into the learning while up there and become much more engaged and happy. 

Blairs aid, “I saw the kids go from hateful sixth graders and evolve into these older kids who were ready to be involved.” I think that alone is enough to want to send your kids to Outdoor Lab, or to outdoor learning in general. 

In conclusion, outdoor education is an amazing choice for your kids, and I promise you will start to see the benefits within a week of them experiencing it– just like Clineand Blairsaw in their short week at outdoor lab.