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Sun Valley students heading to outdoor classroom
by Tribune Staff
Oct 02, 2011 | 1208 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
LAKE TAHOE — “The best thing about Great Basin Outdoor School is waking up every day and realizing your cabin is so close to a beautiful lake that you get to learn about,” a Sun Valley fifth grader wrote last spring.

Tuesday through Friday, more Sun Valley students will get the same opportunity a group of students had last year to learn in the classroom of the great outdoors.

According to a GBOS press release, hands-on science, projects to keep Tahoe blue and fun challenges in Nevada’s great outdoors will get students excited about learning and connect them with their community. This is school’s prescription to get students “Ready For Life.”

GBOS is a seasonal school that hosts students from all over Nevada — many from Washoe County — for four days at a time at Camp Galilee, not far from Sand Harbor on Tahoe’s east shore. Schools can go to the camp for a two-day winter session during which students can snowshoe, or for a four-day spring, summer or fall session.

The school has a new program director this year, Robb “Rock” Dunmore, who has been involved in environmental education for 15 years and is a science teacher.

“Robb likes to enjoy many outdoor activities, such as hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, running, kayaking, rock hounding, snowboarding, snowshoeing, biking, swimming, and generally loving nature while protecting it and sharing that passion with others through educational fun,” the GBOS website states.

Sun Valley principal Rhonda Van Deusen cares about educating the “whole child” and counts on the Great Basin Outdoor School experience to help students become responsible citizens, apply what they learn, become more independent and make new friends.

“It’s a great self-esteem booster for kids this age,” she said.

Place-based education anchors learning in the real world and builds students’ sense of community, the release states. Students will be challenged to be creative while meeting state curriculum standards in fun and relevant ways. Four days actively learning at Tahoe opens new doors for children and can be a life-changing experience.

Outdoor school representatives said the community has come together to make this educational outing possible for these children with limited resources. The Rotary Club of Reno Central, Hobie’s Casino, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Sierra Club have donated generously, children and parents sold nachos and tacos and Reno Ski & Rec Club members and others held a fundraiser at Whole Foods Market.

“Kids need direct experiences in nature for healthy development,” the Great Basin Outdoor School website states. “Mental stimulation of exploring the real world improves school performance; heart-healthy outdoor activity reduces the growing child health risks of obesity, diabetes, and vitamin D deficiency; and a psychologically calming connection to nature relieves stress and ADHD symptoms.”

According to, so many children are missing these crucial benefits that “No Child Left Inside” movements and national legislation have been introduced.

Great Basin Outdoor School is a nonprofit agency that has offered astronomy, geology, and forest, water and wildlife ecology field studies on the shore of Tahoe for more than 10 years. The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, Nevada Division of Forestry, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others provide support to keep student fees below actual cost and promote protection of Tahoe’s water quality and reduction of fire danger in the Tahoe Basin.

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