Amana Starts Year for New Families With Base Camp

Base Camp is a 5-hour special orientation for new parents and students to our school covering the ‘Amana Way’ and to make new friends.

What: Base Camp is a 5-hour special orientation [a day before Open House] for new parents and students to our school covering the ‘Amana Way’ and to make new friends.

Why: Starting the school year on the right foot is important for all students, especially those new to Amana Academy who may not know anyone at our school or be familiar with our innovative programming, school norms, traditions, or policies.

How: All teachers will support a portion of this event and will be trained on their individual roles
Who: 3rd-8th grade parents and students new to Amana were invited

The day had a camping theme: staff members dressed as park rangers, the foyer was decked out in a tent, fishing gear (campsite feel), and all students and parents were placed in crews named after famous American National Parks. Both Students and parents received immersive workshops based on our EL Education approach to the school’s culture and character expectations and academic programs. This includes:

  • On our habits and ways of how we carry ourselves/interact with each other using Amana’s High Five Habits, house system, and daily crew time
  • On ways we challenge our students, the standards and expectations we place, style of classes, STEM and EL focus, etc

One key element aside from exposing new families to the Amana culture was to also give them the opportunity to network and connect with each other- as a new member of a community, fitting in can be tough, and acclimatizing to a new environment is often overwhelming. We really wanted that transition to be as smooth as possible, and we’ve found that when students and parents walk in on the first day of school already knowing a handful of names, then the social and emotional weight is lifted. During Basecamp, we saw new parents exchanging numbers, students giving each other high fives, and an electric feeling of excitement in the room, as opposed to dread, discomfort, and fear.

We are crew, not passengers. Basecamp was definitely an all-hands-on-deck endeavor for the school- everyone was involved- whether they were welcoming parents in the lobby, answering questions in the hallways, presenting material in the workshops, or working behind the scenes to make sure everything went smoothly. We even had student peer leaders acting as guides, leading each crew of new students or parents from workshop to workshop.

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