Students introduced to new immersive Eco-writing course

Lauren Beh
The Eco-writing class allows students to read literature about the environment and then go out and experience nature. This culminates in a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters.

This summer, senior high English teacher Ms. Katie Belanger will be co-teaching a new elective course with junior high teacher Ms. Kristin Gilbertson named Eco-writing. This immersive course will consist of “prep work,” which will include reading nature writings, talking about the works, and going for hikes. Finally, the course culminates with a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters, which will be led by the Lake Trails Base Camp out of Oak Island, Minnesota,

BSM hosted Sue Lemm, the director of the Lake Trails Base Camp, in the theater this past week to help promote and raise awareness for this new course. “We want students to become familiar with the class and what it offers, so we set up an opportunity for students to learn about the program directly,” senior high English teacher Ms. Katie Belanger said.

During their free hour, students were able to stop by the theater, see a Powerpoint presentation from Lemm, and ask questions about the Eco-writing course. “There is no commitment involved in stopping by the theater, but it is for your benefit if you’re interested in taking the course,” Belanger said.

This information session informed students about what the course will offer, as well as more information about the camp, specific dates, and overall cost. “It will be a wonderful experience that students receive in the summer. The course involves nature writing, but also incorporates first-hand experiences. We’ll read a novel, poetry, and excerpts from various stories. The main ‘homework’ involved with [Eco-writing] is a personal narrative, informative essay, literary analysis of the novel we’ll read, and then a choice project when [the students] come back from the Boundary Waters,” Belanger said.

I’ve been up to the campsite before, and it’s an amazing place, environmentally and aesthetically beautiful.

— Katie Belanger

Although the Eco-writing course will fulfill an English elective credit for seniors, Belanger and Gilbertson are hoping to draw on student interest from multiple grade levels. “If a tenth or eleventh grader takes it, they’re still required to take their English credit. However, for incoming seniors, it will count as one of their two English electives. It will be an intensive, environmental, and adventure study. It’s for students who love both writing and the outdoors, and who want to combine those two things,” Belanger said.

Belanger is very excited for the opportunity that the course presents students, and encourages them to look into the class as a unique school experience. “I’ve been up to the campsite before, and it’s an amazing place, environmentally and aesthetically beautiful. It’s an island, but then you can go off in your canoe to discover nature. It all finishes with a final project, but the work that [the students] do is primarily up to them,” Belanger said.