Seventh Graders Build Independence, Resilience, and Community at Camp Pathfinder

Posted on October 5th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

by Aaron Shepard, Rachael Sanguinetti, and Seth Hopkins

Seventh graders went to Camp Pathfinder for five days. Click to view more photos.

Seventh graders went to Camp Pathfinder for five days. Click to view more photos.

Allendale Columbia’s seventh grade recently spent a week hiking, biking, and canoeing in the Canadian wilderness at Camp Pathfinder, a camp for boys owned and operated by AC alumnus Mike Sladden ’76. It’s located on Pathfinder Island on Source Lake in Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park. Students spent five days working together and learning a variety of outdoor skills, including fire building and shelter construction. They also explored the history of painter Tom Thomson, a prolific 20th-century Canadian artists who died in the park under mysterious circumstances and was one of the first voices to articulate a Canadian national identity.

This annual seventh grade experience builds self-reliance, independence, resilience, and a sense of community within the class. Allendale Columbia students having been making the trip for almost twenty years, and it has become the foundation upon which a generation of students has built fond and lasting memories. Older students regularly include the trip as a highlight of their AC years and say it helps bond them to their classmates through the sharing of difficulties overcome.

Middle School teacher Aaron Shepard connects the experience into his English and Social Studies classes through nature writing and by making connections between the trip and the literature the class reads. The trip also provides many opportunities for teaching and discussing Allendale Columbia’s Core Values of connections, curiosity and creativity, mastering strategies for learning, and resilience of spirit.

WROC interviewed one of the teachers, Seth Hopkins, and students Natalia Dandrea and Shane Whiteside in a recent Honor Roll segment. In the segment, Whiteside says, “It will help out with just getting to know people better and learning how to communicate with other kids better — learn how to work together as a team. We learned how to conserve the wildlife better and we learned how you need to take care of the environment.”

Allendale Columbia remains grateful to the anonymous alumni who established a fund to provide these meaningful outdoor experiences to generations of seventh graders.

Kristin Cocquyt

Aaron Shepard

Aaron has 16 years of experience as an educator and has been teaching at Allendale Columbia for ten of those years. He began working at AC as a long-term substitute teacher for fifth grade and began teaching in the Middle School full-time shortly after. Prior to joining AC, Aaron was a special education teacher at BOCES and in the Bradford Central School District in Bradford, New York. He earned a Specialized Technology Degree from The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary and Special Education, with a focus on English, from the State University of New York College at Geneseo, and a master’s degree in Educational Psychology, specializing in gifted and talented education, from the University of Connecticut.

Kristin Cocquyt

Rachael Sanguinetti

Rachael is in her third year teaching music at AC. A recent graduate of the Eastman School of Music with majors in Music Education and Musical Arts with a minor in Psychology and an Arts Leadership Certificate, she's working toward a masters degree at Ithaca College. She brings experience teaching kindergarten-8th grade music in Rochester, 6th-8th grade general music and choir at Burger Middle School, and 2-3 year olds as part of the Eastman Community School Early Childhood Music Program.

Kristin Cocquyt

Seth Hopkins

Seth brings 22 years of teaching experience at the Middle and High School level from Wellsville Central School District, The Charter School for Science and Technology, and most recently, The Norman Howard School. Seth holds a CAS in Educational Administration from The State University of New York College at Brockport, an MS in Adolescent Education in English from The State University of New York College at Geneseo, and a BA in History from The State University of New York at Stony Brook. Seth also holds New York State Certifications in Social Studies (Grades 7-12), English (Grades 7-12), Students with Disabilities (Grades 7-12), School Building Leader, and School District Leader. Additionally, Seth has been involved with grant writing efforts and curriculum development, and has served on a variety of professional committees.

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Posted in: AC in the News, Authentic Learning, Highlights, Middle School, Seventh Grade

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