Starting in MS/Pre-K, classes go on many field trips in and around Portland throughout the school year. Some favorite destinations are the Oregon Children’s Theater, OMSI, the Chinese Gardens, Smith & Bybee Lakes, and Kruger’s Farm. Younger children have in-school “trips” – a day when, for example, OMSI brings fascinating animals to the classroom or Penny’s Puppets delights the PS/preschool children with a puppet show.
As they get older, L’Etoile students also participate in several overnight trips from CE1/2nd grade to CM2/5th grade. L’Etoile believes that real growth happens when students are immersed in diverse situations and experiences; the OMSI Outdoor Science Schools and Canoe Island provide authentic and meaningful learning situations that complement and enliven the in-class curriculum. The shorter overnight trips also prepare students for their trip to France in their CM2 year – a celebration and culmination of the students’ study of French over the past 5+ years.
CE1/2nd Grade: OMSI Camp Gray
During this one-night trip to Camp Gray in Newport, Oregon, CE1 students are led by professional OMSI educators in topics such as Early Oregon Skills, Orienteering, Marine Mammals, and Weather and Climate. Other favorite activities are the Campfire and a Night Hike to the beach. This first overnight trip always serves to strengthen the bond between classmates; students return a more cohesive, harmonious group.
CE2/3rd Grade: OMSI Camp Hancock
In their CE2 year, L’Etoile students have a two-night trip to OMSI’s Hancock Field Station in the desert near Fossil, Oregon. This location has significant fossil sites, as well as canyons and a conservation area. Field study topics at this science camp include Archaeology/Cultural Studies, Arid Lands Ecology, Geology/Paleontology, Fossil Study, Insects & Spiders, and Reptiles & Amphibians. OMSI educators tailor their instruction to fit with students’ interests and teachers’ goals. In between, there is time for resting in cabins or relaxing with friends.
CM1/4th Grade: Canoe Island French Camp
For their CM1 excursion, L’Etoile students spend a full week in the beautiful San Juan Islands in Washington State. Canoe Island offers their entire program in French; activities include archery, fencing, kayaking, sailing, marine biology, and French cuisine. Facilities on the island also include a heated pool and tennis courts, and meals are prepared by a professional French chef! An unforgettable trip for the fourth graders.
CM2/5th Grade: Trip to France
In 5th grade, L’Etoile students are spending their last year together, and are celebrating their accomplishments in elementary school by traveling to France for 10 days. In past years, this class trip has been to one of two outdoor camps accredited by the French Ministry of Education: Camp le Taurus in Mèze, or Centre Batipaume in Agde, both near Montpellier in the south of France.
Activities at these facilities are centered around the outdoors – sailing, swimming, hiking in the garrigue, and the like – but also include cultural excursions such as visits to the medieval cities of Carcassonne or Aigues Mortes. These CM2 class trips to France may also focus on different regions of France and include different activities in upcoming years, but their overarching goals remain the same: to strengthen the students’ French skills, expose them to cultural differences, and reinforce material studied in the classroom by visiting culturally important sites in person. Along the way, students will acquire or improve upon many life skills such as a sense of responsibility and increased autonomy, being away from home and adapting to new environments, community living, socialization, and sharing. Above all, the trip affords the 5th graders a very special and memorable time with their classmates of many years before they leave L’Etoile and move on to the next big chapter in their lives.