JFES Students Make History with Overnight Trip to Little Big Forest
JFES Students Make History with Overnight Trip to Little Big Forest

JFES Students Make History with Overnight Trip to Little Big Forest

In a historic event, the 5th-grade class of James Faulkner Elementary School (JFES) set off on their annual camping trip, but this time, for the very first time, one of those nights would include the Little Big Forest. Over the course of three days and two nights, the students, accompanied by Kroka Expeditions, a nonprofit wilderness expedition school, spent the second night of their trip in this enchanting forest. This visit marked the first of many future trips that the Stoddard Conservation Commission hopes to organize

Raising of $1.5 million

The commission recently accomplished its goal of raising $1.5 million to acquire and protect the 40-acre Little Big Forest. Of that $1.5 million, $100,000 is designated for future stewardship projects. Funding was secured through grants, including $400,000 from the N.H. Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, $600,000 from the U.S. Forest Service Community Forest Grant Program, and $30,000 from the State Conservation Committee Moose Plate Grant. Generous contributions from eight foundations and 287 individuals also played a significant role.

Camping experience

The camping experience allowed the students to engage with nature, learn outdoor skills, and develop a deeper appreciation for the environment. Led by their dedicated teacher, Amanda Bridges, the students embraced the challenges and embraced new experiences such as canoeing, starting a fire, setting up tents, and cooking outdoors. Despite the cold weather, the students were resilient and demonstrated excellent teamwork. During part of the dinner experience the group all exchanged highlights of their day. I have to say that my highlight was seeing all the kids work together setting up camp which included the kids pitching their own tents without a single squabble or peep of resentment towards the work needing to be done. It was like watching a well-oiled machine.

The future

Geoffrey Jones, chairman of the Stoddard Conservation Commission, emphasized the importance of fostering a connection between students and the natural world. By exposing them to the wilderness and instilling a sense of responsibility, Geoff hopes to inspire a future generation of environmental stewards. This milestone showcases the commitment of the JFES community to conservation and outdoor education.

As the official closing date approaches, Geoff’s hope is that Stoddard stands as a shining example of what can be accomplished when a community comes together, and that other communities and schools in New Hampshire will be inspired to safeguard local wilderness areas and instill a love for nature in their students.

Through this transformative camping experience, the students of JFES have left an indelible mark on their school’s history. Just as I can remember my 6th grade camping trip nearly 40 years ago that sparked my love of the wilderness, I’m sure these kids will remember this trip for the rest of their lives as well.

Here is a link to the recent Keene Sentinel Article describing the trip in a more detail from the students

Click HERE if you would like to make a donation to the Little Big Forest stewardship fund.

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