Seventh graders recently stepped out of the classroom to engage in collaboration and teamwork activities at Camp Wyman and to enjoy atypical school-day activities on campus. The seventh-grade teaching team set aside two days for students to focus on working together, strengthening bonds, and learning how to support each other positively.
Seventh-grade boys started at Camp Wyman while the girls had a day of team building back at the MICDS campus, then the next day, they switched—girls at Wyman and boys on campus. At Wyman, students engaged in a “Crate Climbing” exercise where they stacked a tower of plastic crates and climbed, safely tethered, to the top. Students also enjoyed putting together a giant puzzle while a few classmates were blindfolded or unable to use verbal instructions, adding to the challenge. Another activity included working with ropes to pick up a ball and move it without dropping it. A Wyman counselor led each activity, set the task goals, and debriefed with each group afterward. These activities help build skills such as leadership, perseverance, and communication. In addition, students were able to interact with other students with whom they may not interact daily.
On campus, students participated in two sessions where experts from CHADS and PreventEd shared the importance of developing good mental health habits and healthy decision-making. Then students joined Middle School Counselor Erin Sutherlin to discuss the perceptions and insecurities that exist in the middle school student experience. With time for empathy and reflection, students engaged in an activity to support their own inner dialogue with positive affirmations and learned how to encourage peers to do the same. Students also enjoyed various activities such as a fast-paced game called Get 20, jewelry making, computer games, board and card games, Minecraft, Wiffle ball, and a dance party room. At the end of the on-campus day, students came together to watch the movie Luca. Seventh Grade Dean Charlotte Dougherty said, “This film reinforces how important it is to be in touch with what we need as humans—authentic connections and space to be ourselves, without judgment.”
Seventh-grade faculty offered a few reflections on the experience:
“The students got to know each other better. The hard work from a team member was never overlooked, and the team rewarded the member by showing their support.” – Zuowei Chang, Middle School World Languages Teacher
“I was so pleased with how much the boys got into helping and cheering along the other boys as they completed the milk crate challenge. The show of support was genuine, and it helped the ones who were performing in the moment.” – Scott Smith, Middle School English Teacher
During the transition from childhood to adulthood, this age group faces rapid physical, mental, emotional, and social changes. Navigating adolescence can be challenging for all, so it was important to have collaborative exercises at the center of the endeavor.
Dougherty added, “It was really about the group and not the individual, which is a hard concept at this age and especially after so much isolation from the last 18 months.”
Many thanks to Wyman, CHADS, PreventEd, and the seventh-grade teaching team for creating this experience to support our students to strengthen positive relationships, build skills, and make healthy connections with themselves and others.