New Outdoor Adventures class debuts

Alternative option for PE allows students to explore and learn about the outdoors


Nick Wood

GRABBING THE FLAG: Outdoor adventure students play an active game outside during their class period. This is just one of the many activities they partake in during the class period.

Amilia Velez, Print Entertainment Editor

Freshman Gabby Bochey scans the course selection sheet. She needs a credit for PE but the thought of taking a regular Physical Education (PE) class is not appealing. She notices a new outdoor adventure and education class that sounds exciting and decides to try it.

For the first time, Bowie is offering an outdoor adventure course as an alternative to a regular PE class. This class will teach students outdoor skills such as kayaking, fishing, and basic survival skills. Bochey describes how she ended up in the class.

“I was kind of placed into this class,” Bochey said. “At the end of the day, I needed a PE credit and it sounded a lot better than taking a regular PE class.”

With the class being brand new, a curriculum was made that outlined the activities and structure of the class. Outdoor adventures teacher Coach Tilson describes her struggles with the pre-made curriculum.

“One of the hardest things [about teaching this course] is that the curriculum has been created for me,” Tilson said.  “If I followed [the curriculum] to a T it would be really difficult because we would do a lot of watching Power Points and talking about what we were doing. Instead, I’m trying to get us outside to do activities.”

Because the amount of outdoor adventure material that can be practiced at Bowie doesn’t amount for the time students have in the class, Tilson is still trying to keep her students active. The students participate in activities such as basketball and playing games outside such as capture the flag.

I’m glad Bowie is adding alternative options for P.E….. because some kids aren’t as athletic and struggle to meet P.E. criteria.

— Gabby Bochey, Freshman

“A lot of times Coach Tilson will have us run laps so this class does remind me of PE in that way,” Bochey said.

According to Bochey, there is some apprehension for the rest of the year and the extent to which they will do true outdoor adventures. For example, the class doesn’t have enough kayaks for the whole class to participate and the fishing equipment is limited as well.

“Right now I’m not sure how much I would recommend this class to someone because all we have done so far is take a hike around the Bowie campus,” Bochey said. “Besides that we’ve only done the Pacer Test and some Blend models. Because it’s still early in the year, I still don’t have a full grip on what the class is going to be like. If we start getting more into the outdoor adventure part I would probably recommend it.”

Because this class is new, the students in this class were not sure of what to expect. Outdoor adventures is not a topic usually covered in public schools. According to Bochey, this year may be more experimental because of the newness of the class.

“This class differs from my expectations in the way that I thought we would be just full on camping and getting right into the outdoor adventure skills,” Bochey said. “At the moment, it seems like we are sitting around and not doing that much. Hopefully, as the year goes on we will start doing some more interesting stuff.”

Although freshmen typically need their PE credit, outdoor adventures is offered to any grade level at Bowie. Senior Ian Cantu explains why he chose the outdoor adventures class.

“I chose to do this because it was a new class and sounded fun,” Cantu said. “I also heard that the class went on hikes and I was interested in seeing the whole campus.”

While students can learn an endless amount of conceptual outdoor adventures content, there is a challenge in actually practicing these skills at school. There are limits such as time, resources, and money.

“I think in general the biggest challenge for this being a new class is just figuring out what we are going to do,” Bochey said. “Outdoor adventures is a broad subject and we have limitations because it’s not like we can go camping during class. In general, I think once the program is fully set up it can be more well known.”

According to Cantu, outdoor adventures differs from a regular PE class in the way that it is less rigorous. The class is more about exploring nature rather than only conditioning your body.

“I think this is great for students who don’t participate in sports and enjoy nature to get their credit for PE,” Cantu said. “The class is a great way for students to get exercise without having to be on a team. Students who are outdoorsy are able to exercise while also doing something they are passionate about.”

Compared to a regular PE class the physical aspect is not as intense. Bochey also provides the benefits to taking outdoor adventures to someone who doesn’t usually enjoy PE.

“I think it’s good that Bowie is adding new alternative options for PE because some kids aren’t as athletic and might struggle to meet some of the PE criteria,” Bochey said. “One pro of taking this class over a regular PE class is that we don’t have to do as much strength and conditioning. I know some people enjoy that but this class is good for someone who doesn’t want to do any of the gritty PE stuff.”

Its in our agenda to do things like camping and fishing but its hard to do real world things while stuck on campus

— Lora Tilson, Outdoor Adventure Teacher

Since the class is still in its beginning stages, the students are envisioning the class for future students. Looking ahead, Bowie may see outdoor adventures expand into something more complex.

“I think when we start getting into more of the fun outdoor adventures activities the class will pick up and could grow in that sense,” Bochey said. “Hopefully the class could move into the gym or a classroom instead of just being in the portables.”

Because one of the biggest limitations to the progression of this class is the location, Cantu describes how being able to go on field trips would greatly benefit the class.

“[In the future] they may have more funds to get us on other places besides campus such as Barton springs and Zilker,” Cantu said. “It would be really cool to be able to kayak in the course as well as getting new equipment for students to use and grow our skills outdoors.”

Similarly to any course at Bowie, one goal of outdoor adventures is for students to be able to apply their learning outside of school. The basics of outdoor adventures can be put into practice when they are on their own.

“This class will benefit kids especially because we live in Austin,” Cantu said. “There are so many outdoor things to do in Austin and having knowledge about them will be helpful. For example, knowing hiking safety and how to kayak will be helpful.”

Bochey also agrees that the skills she learns in class now could benefit her outside of the classroom.

“If there’s ever a chance that I get stuck in the wild or all of my resources run low I will at least know how to light a fire,” Bochey said. “This class will teach me some basic survival skills that could be useful.

While the future of outdoor adventures brings excitement for the students, for now they are utilizing the resources at Bowie to practice outdoor skills.

“I would like to see us doing more outdoorsy type things like a summer camp style,” Tilson said. “It’s in our agenda to do things like camping and fishing but it’s going to be really hard to do real world applications while we are stuck on campus. Ideally, [the students] would be able to go on some sort of field trip.”