Village Adventist Elementary School 6th graders get an underground tour on their geology trip to Mammoth Cave area. Photo: Robert Rice
Mammoth Cave has over 400 miles of underground tunnels and is the longest known cave system in the world. The kids were able to go on several tours winding under the surface of the earth to learn how caves form and see the natural beauty normally hidden in darkness.
The students favorite trip was a wild cave tour where they got to crawl through caverns, squeeze through holes, and splash through underground rivers. This was an excellent opportunity for the kids to see how wildlife adapts to cave conditions. Shrimp that become translucent and fish that lose their eyes are a couple of examples.
The expedition was led by Katie Roddy, the nature specialist at Village Adventist Elementary School. The principal, Mark Bugbee, and Michael Gusky (6th Grade teacher), were also part of the adventure, along with many of the parents of the 6th grade class. The mix of students, family, school staff, and Village Seventh-day Adventist Church staff created an engaging social opportunity as well as the chance to weave spirituality into the experience. On trips like this, parents get to talk with each other about raising kids and teachers get to understand family communication patterns and learn how to connect with students in a more understanding way.
Morning and evening worships included various Bible stories concerning caves and other spiritual lessons that could be learned from caves. From Village Church, Pastor Dennis Page, pastoral intern Junior Vertes, student missionary Yoshi Thiele, and the bible worker Robert Rice, helped connect spiritually with the youth and others present. And, one of the tours was led by a Christian guide.
Miss Roddy led out in some unique cooperative activities to help people learn trust, communication, and teamwork. One such activity was the “trust walk,” which involved having kids and their parents go through a natural obstacle course blindfolded. The hardest part was that no talking was allowed. Everything had to be done with pre-determined nonverbal language strategies. The debrief afterwards brought out the lessons: parents often have more experience than children which enables them to be effective guides, greater trust allows things to move more smoothly, the ability to see ahead allows warnings to be shared, and sometimes there are several ways to successfully complete a project or solve a problem.
Trips like these are part of the schools focus on outdoor education. Jesus often referenced nature when he taught those around Him. Directing the mind to birds and flowers helped his followers connect with spiritual themes and created memorable hooks that would easily come to mind when one journeyed through the hills of Judea. Please pray for the Village Adventist Elementary School, and all our schools, that nature and spirituality can be woven tightly throughout the curriculum and that the works of God will testify of the glory of their Creator.
Robert Rice, PhD, Village Church Bible Worker