For Immediate Release:


Paw Paw, MI –  On a beautiful 75-degree day in late October, several classes from Paw Paw High School took part in a wilderness survival primitive cooking experience. Unlike most days when students sit at a desk in a classroom and look out the window, on this picture-perfect fall day students happily took to the Michigan out-of-doors. 

Rural school districts like Paw Paw Public Schools have their advantages. Students not only have access to state-of-the-art technology and blazing fast fiber-option internet connections, but they also have access to wide-open spaces that allow for things like cooking over campfires, collaboration and creative outdoor instruction.

As part of a new elective class called Wilderness Survival, High School Teacher Matt Baleja challenged students to plan and prepare a three-course meal over an open campfire that they would build themselves using only a match and natural materials.

Based on Paw Paw Public Schools’ five Core Values: Integrity, Community, Success, Innovation and Kindness, this new class checks a lot of boxes - especially Innovation. Does it allow students new opportunities to create? Yes. Does it allow students the opportunity to adapt to new challenges? Absolutely. Finally, does it push students to grow? Without question.

As outlined in the Wilderness Survival Course Proposal, this class includes first aid, plants, animals, environments, survival skills, how to make survival kits, what to do in emergencies, how to control emotions, building fires using multiple methods, construction of survival shelters, and more. With the goal of helping kids get out of their seats and into nature, they engage in more hands-on learning, improve their physical fitness, mental health, social skills and environmental awareness.

Innovative, new classes like Wilderness Survival allow students at Paw Paw Public Schools opportunities to experience the world around them through a new lens while teaching them essential skills that contribute to a safe and enjoyable experience. At the same time, students learn respect for nature, self-reliance, new ways to work together toward common goals and view challenges as something they can master rather than threats to avoid.

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