Teamwork Wins at Fifth Grade Mini-Camp and Sixth Grade FUN Day

It was a great week for teamwork at MICDS and not just because it’s been Homecoming Week. Two grades in the Middle School had very special collaboration days on Wednesday: fifth grade enjoyed Mini-Camp and sixth grade participated in FUN Day. Check out how these eventful days were celebrated while class members bonded with one another!

Fifth Grade Mini-Camp

For over 20 years, the fifth-grade class at MICDS has laughed and connected during Mini-Camp, a day where they take a break from classes after the first several weeks of school, get to know their classmates through a variety of games, and master a few orientation concepts in engaging ways like getting to know campus better through a fun scavenger hunt. The camp was started by our current Head of Middle School Jen Schuckman.

This year’s camp featured four fun stations:

Silent Ball

Under the watch of Middle School Math Teacher Kristina Jones, fifth graders sat on a table or stool while tossing a ball around. They couldn’t talk or make sounds, and rules were thrown in at random (hot potato, catch and toss one-handed, use only your feet, etc.) to keep it interesting. Even though there were other games prepared, they never changed the game during this session because it was a hit!

Games On Your Feet

Students played some fun group-focused theater games led by Susie McGaughey, Lower & Middle School Counselor, and Debra Mein, Middle School Arts Teacher. Ms. McGaughey studied to be an actor before she studied to be a therapist. She shared, “It’s great to get to partner with our new fifth/sixth grader theater teacher to lead these!”

Oregon Trail

Middle School History Teacher Kayla Helton and Middle School English Teacher Beth Garcia recently decided to introduce a game they played while in elementary school during computer class: The Oregon Trail. As an elective activity for Mini-Camp, students got to play the game.

“In a world where advanced technology has become an integral part of daily life, many of the fifth graders initially viewed the game as simplistic,” Ms. Helton shared. “They couldn’t help but wonder how a game from the late 1980s could compete with the immersive experiences they’re accustomed to today. However, once the students embarked on their virtual journey along the Oregon Trail, their perceptions quickly transformed. Even the most seasoned gamers among them soon discovered that simplicity doesn’t equate to boredom. ‘The Oregon Trail’ not only entertained but also educated, offering a unique opportunity for students to connect with history in an interactive and memorable way by teaching valuable lessons in resource management, decision-making, and problem-solving. ‘The Oregon Trail’ experience at MICDS not only provided valuable educational insights but also served as a testament to the enduring appeal of vintage video games and their capacity to bridge generational gaps.”

Spirit Tiles

In the session with Middle School Science Teacher/Maker & Robotics Coordinator Branson Lawrence and Middle School Science Teacher & Registrar Kelly Long, students used Adobe Illustrator to create a puzzle piece that represented them using 3-4 images/graphics. “We will take each student’s piece and use our Glowforge Laser Cutter in the Makerspace to cut out and engrave each puzzle piece for a mural that will hang in the fifth-grade hallway,” Mr. Lawrence explained. We can’t wait to share when the mural is up!

Besides these four stations, fifth graders enjoyed lunch outside at Polk Pond, a scavenger hunt where they got to know the campus better, and art class. What an exciting way to build community at Fifth-Grade Mini-Camp 2023!


Sixth Grade FUN Day

Meanwhile, in sixth grade on Wednesday, students were busy working together for the third-ever “FUN Day.” This unique sixth-grade day focused on teamwork and collaboration; it centered on incorporating the Middle School concept of LEAD:
  • Learn with curiosity and joy
  • Embrace challenge
  • Advocate for self and community
  • Demonstrate collaboration and teamwork

This acronym speaks to the expectations and ideals for how MICDS Middle Schoolers can be their best selves. It is a reminder that each member of the community has a role in shaping our School culture. “It was great framing the whole day around LEAD,” shared Mark Duvall, Middle School 6th Grade Dean & History Teacher. “Students had to do an opening and closing reflection thinking about their strengths regarding LEAD, and they set goals around LEAD components.”

As far as the rest of the day went, Payton Timme ’30 described, “Throughout the day, we went to three fun activities, PE, and our arts class. I had choir, so that’s the arts class I went to.” Payton, along with Elliott Hosto ’30 and Annabel Cunningham ’30, took the time to describe the three main stations listed below.
Low Ropes
Sixth graders participated in teams in a low ropes challenge. They were instructed by Middle School Humanities Teacher Megan Caulfield. Behind the football field and on the JV baseball field, they took on the same low ropes challenges that are experienced by Upper School students.

For one of the challenges, students had to pretend that they were stranded on the first of three islands, and they had to figure out how to get all 15 members of their team from the first to the third island. If they fell off, they had to restart the entire process.

In another challenge, they had to sync their movements to walk all together. All 15 members of the team had their right foot on one long wooden plank and their left foot on another long wooden plank. Each plank was flanked by a rope for them to lift the wooden slab as a group. The groups were determined to move forward as a team as far as possible.

Toxic Island

Next up, sixth graders participated in “Toxic Island,” also known as the Egg Drop Challenge, with Callie Bambenek, Middle School Science Teacher. Essentially, they had to build a container and a mechanism for an egg to be visible and transported to an imaginary island. Then, it would be put to the test when delivering the egg across a “toxic ocean” and trying not to drop it. If your egg cracked upon delivery, the egg contraption failed. If it didn’t crack once dropped, then your team succeeded in protecting the egg and saving the island.

At first, some students found the challenge to be stressful. “When you work together as a team, and everybody has their own strength, all the strengths working together can be really good,” shared Elliott. “When you successfully accomplish [the challenge], it feels really good.”

Everyone really had to work together as a team. “You all have to be engaged. One person can’t disconnect…if someone accidentally cracks an egg, you still have to work together as a team to continue,” Annabel said. “I think this really helps people with learning to move on and just pat each other on the back. And it was really fun—you get to see pure joy on people’s faces whenever they got it after a few tries of not being able to.”

Scavenger Hunt

Lastly, sixth graders took on a fun scavenger hunt on the turf! For the hunt, groups took on different responsibilities: reading the clue, figuring out what it meant, writing it down, and timing it. “Then we had to film a video of us dancing and singing about MICDS pride,” explained Payton. “[We had to use] a Polaroid camera and film it. Everybody had to have a part in the video. We were jumping up and down and screaming MICDS.” What a fun way to show school spirit for FUN Day as well as Homecoming Week!

As a few of the students reflected on the day, they shared the takeaways from FUN Day that they’ll take back with them to all of the regular 6th-grade school days. Annabel stated the importance of “Remembering to hear everyone out. FUN Day was full of really good chances for someone to accidentally mess up or argue, so you had to remember to be open-minded and okay with different ideas.”

“You really bonded with the people you’re doing new challenges with and got to know them. That’s what I take away from this as a new student,” added Payton. “I got to know the personalities of my peers. And in teamwork, there’s a lot of bonding. Bonding comes with building trust. We learned to trust our teammates.”

Elliott said, “I think the day was just very fun in general. It was a lot of teamwork skills and that can be used during future collaboration. If you’re doing a lab in science and you have one partner, you can work together really well. If you’re doing a math problem with someone and you disagree but can work it out together, that’s really valuable.”

From Fifth Grade Mini-Camp to Sixth Grade FUN Day, we are so proud of our students for winning when it comes to becoming more of a cohesive, collaborative, and fun team. Way to go, Rams!