News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, February 21, 2013
DISES awarded grant to build outdoor camp classroom

by Jessica Brophy

There are some lessons that are difficult to learn indoors, like how to build a safe campfire or how to tarp a camp area. Teachers can talk about the philosophy of leave-no-trace camping, but showing students may be the best way to reach them.

Alternative Education teacher Billy Voisine thinks this is the case, which is why he enlisted the help of Special Education teacher Heather Ford and Island Fellow Wes Norton to put together a grant request to Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant program. The school was awarded $3,365 to build an outdoor classroom, to include a tent platform, a lean-to modeled on the kind found in state parks, a “cooking box,” vertical poles to act as trees for hanging tarps and more.

The outdoor classroom will be built on school property and be called CAMP, which stands for Community Attitude Motivates Participation.

Voisine looks forward to using the space as a teacher to help students learn primitive and survival skills as well as regular classroom lessons in an outdoor setting. “I know I love being outside and so do the students,” said Voisine, who hopes the classroom is another way to reach students who may not respond well in the traditional classroom setting.

The plans are ready to go, said Voisine, and now all that is needed is “thawed, dry land” and volunteers to help build the classroom. Voisine said the project may not be complete until the fall, depending on how many volunteers and students commit to building the project.

Voisine said he hopes many teachers will incorporate the space into their lessons, and the space will be available, with proper notice, to community groups who may want to practice camping or fire safety techniques.

“As long as people treat it respectfully, we’d like to have the community be involved,” said Voisine.

Voisine said he’d like to see students use the proposed outdoor kitchen to cook lunch for other students, and perhaps do overnight campouts.

For more information about the grant, the project, to volunteer or to donate toward the effort, contact Billy Voisine at 348-6301 or email />