About Sunrise Lake Outdoor Education Center
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about NSSEO's Outdoor Education Center, Sunrise Lake. NSSEO's Member Districts include districts: 21, 23, 25, 26, 57, 59, 211, & 214. Please take a few moments to watch the following videos and get a better understanding of Sunrise Lake and how we can partner with you for the benefit of your students.
Welcome to NSSEO’s Outdoor Education Center, Sunrise Lake. We are passionate about our work. I invite you to experience the engaging learning opportunities our teachers have to share. At Sunrise, we believe in people and appreciate that each person is doing the best they know how, all of the time, all things considered. Using a strengths based perspective and knowing that love is wanting to, we invite learners to find their passion, in a world where change is the only constant. Communication is key and experiential learning occurs when carefully chosen experiences are supported by hands-on engagement, interpretation, reflection and synthesis. We want our students to be curious and creative, to pose questions and investigate, to experiment and solve problems, to assume responsibility and construct meaning. We enable learners to take the initiative, make decisions and be accountable for results. Fellow conscious creature, Sunrise is a magical place and we look forward to meeting you in person and sharing our journey together.
NSSEO School District 805, propels all students, including people with special needs to be actively engaged citizens through dynamic family, school, and community partnerships. Sunrise Lake Outdoor Education Center uses experiential learning to extend learning beyond the classroom, for all students from Pre-K through 21 years of age. We empower learners to find their passion and become contributing members of our society. “Who are you?” “Where do you belong?” and “How will you contribute?” are important questions that guide each student's journey. To that end, our teachers provide visionary leadership using nature and the outdoors, as resources to discover the unique talents and abilities each student has to offer. We focus on improving outcomes for all learners which align with the hopes and dreams of each student and their families. Our work is to help uncover students’ talents that will unfold into a promising future, including areas of academics, social emotional learning, employment readiness, self-determination, and independence.
Sunrise Lake is located on 11 acres of ecologically rich land, next to a 10 acre glacial lake in Bartlett, Illinois. Experiential Education can be articulated most simply as Challenge and Experience followed by Reflection, leading to Learning and Growth. Year round access to nature provides students and teachers with opportunities to apply classroom learning objectives in a rustic outdoor setting that includes a tall grass prairie, an oak savanna, native and domesticated creatures, a teams course, and waterfront activities. Nature's seasonal rhythms bring learning alive with activities that include nature hikes, archery, rock climbing, fishing, team building, boating, sledding, ice skating, bee keeping, and crafts, to name a few. Sunrise also provides vocational worksite skill development and service learning projects that enables students and volunteers to contribute significantly to restoration efforts.
Rather than using a predetermined outdoor education curriculum, Sunrise teachers work in partnership with visiting teachers to align learning goals and customize activities for each classroom. Our teachers invite learners to try new experiences and explore nature through sensory awareness and active participation. Lessons are aligned with academic and social emotional learning standards. We do have indoor spaces including a lodge which dates back to the 1930’s, as well as paved paths and accessible equipment that makes activities welcoming for students of all ages and abilities. We look forward to having FUN, with you and your students. And remember, F.U.N. is a Fundamental Universal Need!
The Principles of Practice: (https://www.aee.org/what-is-ee)
- Experiential learning occurs when carefully chosen experiences are supported by reflection, critical analysis and synthesis.
- Experiences are structured to require the learner to take initiative, make decisions and be accountable for results.
- Throughout the experiential learning process, the learner is actively engaged in posing questions, investigating, experimenting, being curious, solving problems, assuming responsibility, being creative, and constructing meaning.
- Learners are engaged intellectually, emotionally, socially, soulfully and/or physically. This involvement produces a perception that the learning task is authentic.
- The results of the learning are personal and form the basis for future experience and learning.
- Relationships are developed and nurtured: learner to self, learner to others and learner to the world at large.
- The educator and learner may experience success, failure, adventure, risk-taking and uncertainty, because the outcomes of experience cannot totally be predicted.
- Opportunities are nurtured for learners and educators to explore and examine their own values.
- The educator's primary roles include setting suitable experiences, posing problems, setting boundaries, supporting learners, ensuring physical and emotional safety, and facilitating the learning process.
- The educator recognizes and encourages spontaneous opportunities for learning.
- Educators strive to be aware of their biases, judgments and pre-conceptions, and how these influence the learner.
- The design of the learning experience includes the possibility to learn from natural consequences, mistakes and successes.
Growing involves uncertainty and calculated risk taking, leading to change. Sunrise provides learners with challenging experiences that involve physical and emotional risk taking. Examples can include, holding a chicken for the first time, rock climbing, canoeing, trust falls or prairie burning. We create classroom ready experiences that engage students where the perceived risk is high and the actual risk is minimized. The key is knowing your students and choosing risk appropriate activities that connect with learners in the present. When risk levels are too high, stress limits learning. At the opposite end of the risk level continuum is boredom. Our goal is to empower students in a learning process that engages and enables them to make wise choices and learn from their experiences. Your teacher insights and student discernment, enables students to experience flow, the holistic sensation that people feel when they act with total involvement. We want students to conscientiously face challenges, maintain effort despite adversity, and demonstrate self-discipline, perseverance and grit.
There are a lot of logistics that go into planning your visit. Please go through the videos below to be guided through the process of planning your trip, travel, etc.
Welcome visiting teachers! We want you and your students to feel at home, remember Sunrise is your classroom. About three weeks before your scheduled arrival date, a Sunrise teacher will contact you by email and/or phone to work in partnership with you and create a Daily Schedule of experiences and activities. Creating a Daily Schedule is like planning an adventure, so fun. Involve your students in the planning process and invite them to choose activities that will empower their learning. What learning goals does your class want to achieve at Sunrise? How can we extend classroom learning in an experiential way? How can instruction be differentiated to achieve the learning objectives for each student group? Answering these questions will enable the selection of experiences and activities that engage and instruct learners. Your learning objectives can be broad and global in nature, for example, “My students need a Gross Motor Day,” or “It's time for a Celebration Day.” You may have a specific learning focus in mind, such as measurement, simple machines, nature studies, or social emotional learning. Perhaps it's time for students to express gratitude via service learning, to be reflective and create poetry, to work as a team and calculate the trajectory and reach of a trebuchet, make a gift for mothers day, or appreciate nature from a rowboat. Knowing “Why” students are at Sunrise enables the “How” your students' day will go and “What” students will experience and learn. Your “Why” can be a discovery unit with students actively engaged in a unique challenge, while teachers uncover student strengths not witnessed before.
Sunrise has 3 teaching staff and serves multiple schools daily. Sunrise staff will collaborate with classroom teachers to create daily schedules that coordinate spaces, activities, and staff which enables multiple programs to engage in learning activities simultaneously. Visiting teachers need to be prepared to lead activities. Activities to be led by visiting staff will have materials provided so that you feel confident in facilitating these activities. Each group of students requires a certified staff person that knows the students and is able to enforce your school’s behavior expectations.
A Sunrise staff person will send an e-mail to the designated contact person(s) from the visiting school about 3 weeks prior to the visit. In this initial contact, the Sunrise staff will ask for the expected number of students and staff, and any student needs, such as wheelchairs and allergies. Ideally, Sunrise recommends group sizes of 15-20 participants, to maximize student engagement.
We strive to provide students with as many outdoor experiences as the weather allows. With this in mind, we create schedules with alternative indoor activities in case the weather chases us inside. If there is inclement weather, we have 6-8 indoor spaces available.
We will also confirm arrival & departure times and lunch plans. Sunrise does not provide a food service; however we do have a kitchen and fire pits which are available upon request. We encourage groups to be creative about lunch planning, such as cooking food over a fire, enjoying s’mores, or making banana boats. Please make sure to inform Sunrise staff of your lunch plans and be sure to bring the ingredients you will need to make your lunch. Freezer and refrigerator space is available in the kitchen.
Please utilize Sunrise staff to brainstorm meaningful activities for your group. Share with us your classroom studies and goals for the day so we can make your trip as meaningful for your students as possible and make connections that can extend classroom learning. Taking your feedback, Sunrise staff will offer activity suggestions based on learning objectives, reviews of schedules or suggestions from previous visits, the age & abilities of the students, and the season. If a teacher has an idea for a new activity in order to meet a learning objective, Sunrise staff will develop a lesson in partnership with the visiting staff. We welcome new activities and enjoy creating new experiential learning opportunities that meet the learning needs of your students.
Logistically, the number of activities must be greater than or equal to the number of groups. Finding this balance requires communication between program leaders and Sunrise staff. The activities requested must fit practically into the time frame of your visit. Activities generally take between 30 and 45 minutes. Based on the activities you choose, Sunrise staff may recommend adding or subtracting an activity in order to meaningfully engage students in learning experiences. Please keep in mind that15 minutes will be designated at the very beginning of the day for introductions, a final count of students & staff, information regarding any necessary changes to times or activities, and an opportunity to answer any last minute questions. 15 minutes will also be allowed at the very end of the day for using the restroom, collecting materials, and taking attendance.
Once all of the necessary information is attained, Sunrise staff will begin creating a Daily Schedule. The final activities will be based on the number of groups, the duration of the visit, and lunch plans. The finished schedule will allow for each groups’ activities, whether indoors or outside, to be experienced by each group individually, unless prior arrangements have been made for groups to participate in separate activities, or to share a time and/or space.
Ideally, the final schedule is sent to the school contact(s) one week prior to the visit. The contact person is expected to share the schedule with his or her colleagues in order to preview the plan for the day and make sure everyone feels prepared to facilitate any designated activities. Visiting staff are strongly encouraged to use this time to communicate any questions, comments, or concerns with Sunrise staff. Please let Sunrise staff know if changes have occurred in attendance totals, arrival or departure times, recent student injuries that necessitate accommodations, or lunch plans.
In the event the contact person has not received the schedule in advance, he or she is asked to inform Sunrise of the situation at least two days prior to the visit. The certified staff person with each group of students should bring a copy of the schedule to Sunrise Lake and use it for reference throughout the day.
Remind students and staff to dress for the weather and plan to be outdoors. Fishing in the rain is an adventure that students enjoy; we provide rain ponchos. Bring sunblock and bug spray, which may require parental permission to apply.
Visiting teachers, you know your students best. Your student insights enable you to achieve learning objectives by empowering, challenging and engaging learners in the activities you selected, in order to extend learning beyond your classroom.
When traveling to Sunrise, it’s important to know that Google Maps works best. OUR ADDRESS HAS CHANGED TO 401 S. IL Route 59, Bartlett, IL 60103.
Your bus ride to Sunrise is an ideal time to prepare for activities. We want to maximize instructional time and ensure that students experience the learning activities planned for them, so please arrive on time. If you are running late, call (630) 830-0146 and we will adjust your Daily Schedule.
Let students know your expectations for the day and how they will be grouped for activities and lunch in advance. Tally student and staff attendance so that when you arrive, you are ready to give the totals to Sunrise staff for use in case of emergency procedures. Please ask your bus drivers to sign in at the office.
As buses arrive, you will be greeted by Sunrise teaching staff in our outdoor amphitheater, Great Hall, or other indoor space. A brief overview of the day’s activities will be shared with the students while visiting teachers get oriented, share attendance totals, and get ready to lead activities.
You will be provided with a radio which enables you to request help when needed by clearly stating your name, location and how a Sunrise staff can help. Sunrise does not have a nurse on staff; however, school nurses are welcome and encouraged to accompany their students to Sunrise, or visiting teachers can contact their home school nurse for medical concerns. In case of emergency, please notify the office so that we can call from the land line. This will help ensure a speedy emergency personnel response.
If there is inclement weather, for example, when thunder or lightning necessitates indoor activities for 30 minutes, check your Daily Schedule for rain plan activities and the indoor spaces assigned. To minimize office disruption, please ask students to refrain from walking through the Main Office and use the side entrances to the Main Lodge.
Based on your lunch plans, you will be assigned a designated cooking time and/or location. Sack lunches can be deposited in bins upon arrival and moved to eating locations for lunch. Please be mindful of your assigned cook times and locations as there may be other groups who need the kitchen, specific fire pit, or lunch space. Sunrise has supplies, such as plates, cups, and silverware for visiting school usage.
We ask that when you are finished eating, that you utilize our sanitation system in our kitchen and clean up after yourself. Sunrise has four large picnic tables beside each fire pit for outdoor lunches and two large decks. IDPH regulations state that tables must be used when eating lunch indoors.
At the end of the day, please make sure to return your radio to Sunrise staff. If you find that a student is missing something, we have a lost and found in our office. After your school has left Sunrise for the day, you will receive an evaluation via email. This is a quick survey that helps both visiting and Sunrise staff reflect on their planning and day of experience. Please thoughtfully reflect on your day.
Looking forward, please remember to schedule early for your next visit. We always enjoy spending the day with you and your students. We look forward to seeing you again soon!
To initiate a 911 Emergency response, calls should be made from the Sunrise office, or any Sunrise phone. If you need help, ask or radio a Sunrise staff. Using a cell phone results in a significant delay in paramedic response time. Please report all student and staff injuries to the office. School nurses are welcome to accompany their students to Sunrise or visiting teachers can contact their home school nurse for medical concerns, Sunrise does not have a nurse on staff. Sunrise staff have completed Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Training, however we do not have a Behavioral Support Team on site. Sunrise Lake Outdoor Education Center, District 805 is a public school and smoking, vaping, alcohol and weapons are prohibited on school property. Sunrise is governed by school code and we implement emergency procedures including fire, law enforcement, shelter-in-place and emergency evacuation procedures. During an emergency, please follow directions from Sunrise staff or our procedures which are posted in each building. If necessary during winter, Sunrise staff will call 911 and implement emergency Ice Rescue procedures, prior to paramedics arriving. Please stay and keep everyone off of thin ice.
Sunrise has many activities to offer you class. We would love to partner with you to extend your classroom learning.
NSSEO classrooms have visits scheduled through their NSSEO schools. If you want additional days please fill out a Request For Use (RFU). If you teach at a Member District school (Dist. 21, 23, 25, 26, 57, 59, 211, & 214) or another school your do not have pre-arranged visits. Please fill out the Request For Use (RFU) if you are interested in a visit.
Please take a look at the State Goals for activities listed under each goal.
We also have a Teams Initiative Course (TIC) that offers team building initiatives for your class. We offer trainings once a year in the fall. Once trained, you can independently facilitate groups on our teams course, making it easier to reserve a date at Sunrise. If you are already a facilitator that has attended our training click here for resources.
What to Wear/Bring?
When you come out to Sunrise, please make sure to remind your students and staff to dress according to the activities you have chosen. If you've signed up for outdoor activities, we encourage groups to do those activities until the weather "chases you in."
Here are some general suggestions for what to wear to Sunrise:
- Encourage students and staff to wear gym shoes or other movement and outdoor-friendly type shoes.
- If it's going to rain, we encourage students and staff to bring their own rain jacket; however, Sunrise also has rain ponchos available upon request.
- If cold outside, encourage students to wear jacket, hat, gloves, scarf, boots, etc.
- Important to Note: Sunrise does not have sunscreen or bug spray for student use. If your district allows, we encourage schools or student to bring their own sun screen and bug spray and/or have your students wear it to school.
Here are some general suggestions for what to bring to Sunrise:
- Sunrise does not have a food service available. We do have refrigerators, a freezer, 2 stoves/ovens, and 6 outdoor and 3 indoor fire pits that are available for cooking your lunch. You are expected to bring the food supplies needed for lunch, but you are welcome to use our pots and pans, tongs, skewers, etc. Please let us know in advance so we can start your fire and/or coordinate appropriate lunch spaces.
- If you do not plan on cooking lunch, please make sure students bring sack lunches to Sunrise.
- Important to Note: We encourage students and staff to leave valuable items at home. Items may be accidentally lost or broken on a hike, while playing games, boating, etc. Personal technology should be discouraged so that students can be fully present.
Sunrise has a handful of special events throughout the year that are available for NSSEO and Member District (Dist. 21, 23, 25, 26, 57, 59, 211, & 214) students and staff and their families!
NSSEO hosts two annual events at Sunrise: Harvest Festival and Winter Wonderland. We welcome NSSEO and member district students and staff families to participate in these family friendly activities. Please consider spending the day at Sunrise with us!
Sunrise also provides unique opportunities for schools who would like to schedule trips outside of regular school hours such as overnights or weekend trips. Sunrise also hosts administrative retreats, Scouts of America, corporate volunteer days, and many other programs. We are always willing to get creative and provide unique experiences for participants based on learning objectives.
If you are interested in scheduling a program, please complete a Request for Use (RFU) form. Once we receive your request, Sunrise will work with you to find a date that works best with your program and Sunrise staff availability. Once your event is on the calendar, SLOEC teaching staff will reach out to you to start creating a schedule for your event. We look forward to seeing you soon!
Please see additional information about the different types of events below:
Winter Wonderland happens once a year in the Winter. This year we will hold Winter Wonderland on February 10, 2024 from 11am - 3pm.
This is an event available to NSSEO and Member District students, families, and staff!
Schools or organizations are welcome to submit a Request for Use and work with Ro, our administrative assistant, to get a date on the calendar if interested in scheduling an overnight. These "after hours" events will be scheduled based on Sunrise teaching staff availability.
We love these types of events and helping you engage your students in different ways outside of school hours. Once a date is scheduled, teaching staff will reach out to you to create a meaningful schedule for your event. Team building is one of the most common activities requested for overnights.
Cooking dinner with your group can be a very fun activity that gets everyone involved. We have a kitchen with 2 refrigerators, 1 freezer, 2 ovens, and 2 stoves that you are welcomed to use as well as many fire pits.
Materials Encouraged to Bring on Overnights:
- Sleeping bag/blankets
- Change of clothes for next day
- Toiletries (Tooth brush, tooth paste, deodorant, etc.)
- Gym shoes
- If cold at night, bring a warmer sweater or jacket for night hike
Sunrise has a Teams Initiative Course and also facilitates many cooperative games. Sunrise offers 3 trainings throughout the year to enable staff to bring out groups and lead initiatives independently. Days 1 and 2 are stand along days but day 3 has additional requirements, one of which is attending both day 1 and 2. The training dates are generally held in the fall. Once you have attending the training you can independently facilitate your group on the initiatives you have been taught.
TIC Day 1 Training
TIC Day 2 Training
TIC Day 3 Training
If you are interested please contact Ro (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
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