Almost 90% of sixth graders in Oregon used to attend a week-long outdoor school program, but due to budget cuts at local school districts in recent years, now only about half of students have the opportunity to go at all… and many of those students only get a day or two out in nature. The nearly 60 year-old Outdoor School tradition just got a renewed boost with the passing of Measure 99 in the most recent election. The state will now devote up to $22 million a year towards funding this transformational experience for 50,000 fifth and sixth graders across the state. Proponents of Measure 99 argued that the week-long, hands-on, science-based Outdoor School experience is much more than playing in the woods and were pleased with the funding decision, saying “nature is still one of our best classrooms.” The kids who complete Outdoor School benefit from Oregon’s rich natural resources, and they also get an education in working together and building their own confidence in navigating the natural world. In addition to these benefits and simply having tech-free time in the fresh air, many of the students who attend outdoor ed programs like Outdoor School also show an increased interest in nature stewardship and even have better attendance. Measure 99 will include funding for children who are homeschooled as well as children who attend private or charter schools, a condition we heartily agree with. EVERY student can benefit from an experience like Outdoor School, and we’d love for this Oregon tradition to be adopted nationwide.