Future educators hit the ropes course to enhance collaboration skills

Contact: Chris Hybels

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Students in Western Michigan Univerrsoty's TRIO Future Educator Success Program (FESP) explored the outdoors and challenged themselves during their annual trip to Pretty Lake Camp this spring semester. Alongside staff from the program, they participated in activities together to build collaboration, problem solving and communication skills.

Pretty Lake Camp is a nonprofit camp that provides a free summer camp for more than 50,000 youth in the Kalamazoo County area. The camps target students and campers who couldn't otherwise afford to come to camp, and they provide everything a camper needs from the moment they arrive and until they leave.

"Groups come here for team building and leadership development types of programs. And so with the students from TRIO FESP, we spent a day doing some team development, low ropes and we went up on the high ropes course and had a great time," says Maggie Walters, Pretty Lake Camp's Adventure Centre director.  

Students from the program spent the entire day at Pretty Lake Camp getting to build connections and deepen bonds with one another. Participating in activities such as the low and high rope courses challenged students to push their boundaries and overcome their fears.

"My experience was very fun and challenging, but I'm glad I did it. I feel very empowered," said Chloe Windemuller, early childhood unified education student.

Students in TRIO FESP were able to learn about Pretty Lake Camp and the kinds of services they offer for free to underserved youth in the community. This learning experience is particularly beneficial to TRIO FESP students, as they are all future teachers who will be guiding these populations in their careers. Additionally, it comes full circle as students in TRIO FESP are first-generation, low-income and/or students with disabilities. 

"For students, it served as a great opportunity to continue personal growth by creating new goals for themselves," explaines Natéya Moore, director of TRIO FESP. "Students were able to ease out of their comfort zones as much as they're willing to in a supportive and safe environment."

The trip to Pretty Lake Camp is just one of the many events hosted by TRIO FESP during the year to build engagement and support their students. At the start of the school year they have an annual Fall Welcome Back Bash where students get to meet each other over food, music and games. The program also hosts academic and financial workshops, graduate school exploration and the opportunity for students to attend conference for professional development.  

"I hope students took away from the trip that it's healthy to challenge yourself and that often you will not know what you can truly accomplish until you at least try. You may truly surprise yourself in a good way!" says Moore. "Also, I hope students took away from the experience knowing that you'll always have a tribe there to support, guide, and cheer you on and that's what TRIO FESP is for our students for their entire undergraduate college journey." 

about trio future educator success program

The TRIO FESP is designed to help eligible students excel at Western and in their PK-12 teaching careers. Through a variety of activities services, and opportunities on campus and in the community, staff provide information and resources to enhance student academic performance and cultivate financial literacy, career development, leadership development and awareness of campus services and programming. Funded by a $260,000 annual grant from the U.S. Department of Education, TRIO FESP partners with the College of Education and Human Development faculty and PK-12 educational professionals to prepare them to fulfill their aspirations of becoming PK-12 educators. For more information about the program, visit the TRIO FESP website.

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