Rippleffect & Portland Public Schools

Through our partnership with Portland Public Schools, Rippleffect will be bringing an outdoor leadership experience to all Portland Middle School students in the city.

Already this spring, staff and guides have brought Rippleffect communication and leadership trainings to classrooms, public parks, and our very own Cow Island. Through this program, we’re able to provide equitable access to the outdoors and outdoor leadership experiences for young Mainers. This work is made possible in part by the Portland Education Foundation and the generosity of L.L. Bean, our school communities, and Rippleffect’s community supporters.

Our programming follows a progression that starts in 6th grade, where students learn about community-building and Rippleffect as an organization. While some 6th grade students worked on building race cars out of PVC pipes, other students sat huddled as Rippleffect staff explained the organization, Cow Island, and their future 7th grade camping trip to Cow Island. Executive Director Adam fielded questions, which ranged from, “Why is it called Cow Island?” to “Can we use our phones?” The answer to the latter is no, as we hope to get kids unplugged and immersed in the beautiful nature Maine has to offer.

Although some students were feeling anxious about their 7th grade camping trip (this will be a first for many of the students), the teachers and students alike agreed that learning more about the program helped them feel more comfortable - and excited! By the time these students are in 8th grade, they will have multiple experiences with Rippleffect in preparation for their Senior Quest: a 4-day, 3-night, kayak or backpacking trip.

Over the past few weeks, all three of the Middle Schools, Lincoln, Lyman-Moore, and King, have all engaged in a community-building day throughout greater Portland. We’ve been able to work closely in the months leading up to these programs tailoring our curriculum to each of the school’s unique needs. Some of our school partnerships have been built over ten years of collaboration (Lincoln), while others are brand new to our programming (King). Regardless of the length of partnership, all the teachers emphasized how great it is to see students working together through our leadership curriculum.

The teachers sum it up the best:

Rob Lindsay, the 6th grade science teacher at Lincoln Middle School, commented that it’s “great to see kids come together as a group, even kids who typically maybe don’t work together frequently, really bond and work well together.”

Kate Reagan, another teacher at Lincoln, affirmed that  “Ripple Effect does an amazing job with our students - always. It’s great to see how they get the kids to think for themselves and work together.”