A portion of the physical-education curriculum at the Worthington Hills Elementary School focuses on adventure activities. Students learn sports and engage in fitness activities just as many other children in elementary physical-education programs do, but what makes this program special is the manner in which risk, adventure, and cooperation are woven into the curriculum throughout the school year.
The “regular” activity program includes elements of adventure and cooperation throughout the year. For example, team sports are always introduced initially through cooperative games for example, volleyball, where two teams work together to try to keep the ball in play. Sill instruction and practice for activities such as archery and orienteering are also done as part of the regular school curriculum.
For several weeks during the school year, special adventure activities become the focus of the curriculum. Climbing and rappelling are two skills learned by all students. The gymnasium contains three indoor climbing walls: a horizontal climbing course that traverses 60 feet along one wall and tow vertical climbing courses of differing levels of difficulty.
There are also several rappelling stations throughout the gymnasium. Each course was attractively decorated with the help of the art teacher to look like a mountainous challenge. Climbing and rappelling are technical skills that have a strong element of perceived risk and challenge.
Students are encouraged to extend themselves, improve their skills, and take new risks. Students reaching the top of one vertical course where a snowy peak is painted can sign their names.
At the top of another course, they can honk a horn, while touching the “golden egg” at the top of the beanstalk course.
Students get more opportunity to practice these and other adventure skills in the intramurals program. A final component of the adventure curriculum is a series of field trips.
Sixth-graders go on a 3-dav camping trip, in which the adventure curriculum learned indoors is extended to natural settings.
In addition, there are several 1-day trips to a nearby adventure centre where students participate in a high-ropes course, group-initiatives courses, field archery, and orienteering, thus extending to a wooded, natural setting the skills learned originally at the school.
In terms of goals and objectives, the adventure program described here has much in common with the social- development program described earlier.
Both are concerned primarily with personal growth, cooperation, sharing, and responsibility. They differ primarily in the means through which those goals are achieved.