The Great Outdoors

Birch Grove Community School spends much time in the great outdoors! Surrounded by Lake Superior, the Northwoods, and a fantastic outdoor facility, we take advantage of our natural environment most every day!

Class Quest

Two students holding up antlers outside in the snow

These two students said this day made the top three days of their whole lives when they discovered an antler set on a class quest for animal evidence! Ms. Silence's class also documented grouse tracks, rabbit scat, deer scat, and a deer bed. BGCS students see these things quite often in the woods, however, they don't often find antlers. The boys found the antlers in one of their favorite places to play. We guess that the deer like to play there too!

Natural Environment

Lake Superior is a stone’s throw away. We take walking field trips to the lake where we can visit Tofte Town Park that has a covered pavilion with picnic tables, a paved walking trail, a bathroom (yay!), the coolest rock bridges and well, and grassy, open spaces where we can gather. We also frequent the beach at Bluefin where you can skip rocks until your heart’s content.

Boy ice skating and wearing a helmet for hockey Girl sitting on rock bridge by Lake Superior Three kids smiling and wearing snowshoes

The Northwoods is in our backyard. We have nature trails that run throughout the woods behind the building where students can hike and snowshoe, look for scat, tracks, and hear birds sing. School activities, such as partner reading, art projects, snow building, and bonfires, happen in the Northwoods. Our school's campsite is also located in the area.

The Campsite

Located over a wooden bridge and up a trail that leads into the Northwoods, you will find The Campsite. This area includes a brick paver bonfire area, a second brick paver surrounded by picnic tables and a large grill, a hammock circle, a storage shed where we keep all our camp chairs and outdoor equipment, and lots of space for kids to roam the woods. Many a fort has been built in this area. It is also the site for our summer program, Campsite Kids.

Red camp chairs around a fire
Boy licking roasted marshmallow Boys on hammocks enjoying their books

Outdoor Facility:

  • Ice skating rink with warming hut and bathroom
  • Playground area with equipment
  • Covered pavilion with picnic tables and grill
  • Tennis Court
  • Wood-fired Hearth Oven
  • Large, grassy areas to play group games
  • Paved bonfire area at The Campsite
  • Tofte Community Garden (K–5/Campsite Kids and Saplings have plots)

Outdoor Activities:

  • Hiking
  • Snowshoeing
  • Ice Skating
  • Building with Snow
  • Bonfires: making smores and roasting hot dogs
  • Classroom curriculum and/or group activities at The Campsite
  • Cooking with the wood-fired hearth oven

Outside Recess:

We go outside for recess thirty minutes each day in all but the most severe weather. Recess happens on the playground or at The Campsite. Sometimes, all the grade levels stay together in one area, and other times, the grades split with each grade level going to a separate recess area.

Child holding walking stick in snow Girls on playground equipment

Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center

Birch Grove Community School takes an annual trip to Wolf Ridge at the end of every school year. Second through fifth graders take a three-day, two-night adventure that addresses many of the Minnesota state academic standards, depending on the adventures chosen for the year. For more information, visit the Wolf Ridge website.

Child holding hummingbird Female student excited to be on the rope course