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 **** Some classes may not be available.
 Academic Classes
AMAZING ANIMALS (Animal Adaptations)
Animals have some amazing adaptations to help them survive! In this class students will first define the term "adaptation” and then learn about the two types: physical and behavioral. They will get to see first hand how their favorite animals' adaptation helps them survive. By holding both living and non-living examples, students will learn about Carolus Linnaeus, the father of taxonomic order, and Charles Darwin’s theories of natural selection.

There have been nefarious happenings at River Ridge and we need your students' help. With our trails as the scene, we will investigate the evidence animals leave behind. Honing in on our skills of observation, students will learn to identify signs: an animal may leave a chew mark on a leaf or a pile of its scat as it’s calling card. In this class, gumshoes will learn about seven different clues that tell us animals are all around and will see and collect first hand examples of these clues. These young investigators will end the class compiling a lineup of possible suspects based on the evidence (herbivore, carnivore, omnivore, hair evidence, tooth impressions) and their alibis (nocturnal, diurnal, crepuscular). All critter suspects are innocent until proven guilty.

DISCOVERY HIKE (Nature Hike with Forest Ecology)
This excursion is for groups who want to explore as much of our 140 acres as possible! This 3 hour hike is an expansion of our forest ecology class (Into the Woods) but also includes sensory awareness and tree identification. Students and chaperones will hike all the way to our third peninsula to discover trickling creeks, mossy outcrops, shoreline beaches, a towering sycamore tree, beautiful overlooks and anything else nature may send their way. Recommended for 5th grade and up.

GET YOUR BEARINGS (Orienteering)
The compass is a valuable instrument in the outdoors. In this class students will not only learn how to use a compass but will also learn the physical and mathematical principles on which the compass is based. Students will learn how to take a bearing, follow a direction and pace to determine distance. After a few practice activities, students then put these skills to use on the River Ridge compass course to find a secret message. Our orienteering course combines challenge, ingenuity and physical activity to require students to develop their compass skills to a fine "degree."

IN COLD BLOOD (Reptiles and Amphibians)
*** Our Most Popular Class!***
In this course students will learn about herpetology: the study of reptiles and amphibians. Classes will compare reptiles with amphibians to determine their common characteristics and differences. Students will have a chance to touch or handle various frogs, salamanders, lizards, turtles and non-venomous snakes from our Nature Center. Students will learn about how herpetofauna are important to an ecosystem, why they are meaningful to study and possibly clear up some misconceptions they may have about these fascinating animals.

INTO THE WOODS (Forest Ecology)
The forest is the subject as well as the classroom in "Into the Woods!” Students will discover the forms of life common to a forest community.They will gain a first hand understanding of the three components of the forest ecosystem - producers, consumers and decomposers. Students will then discover how these components interact with one another by using their keen skills of observation. They will get to know the differences between biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) factors and how they can change the forest landscape. While hiking and exploring, students may have the opportunity to examine a rotten log, search for tracks and other animal signs or maybe see some live animals!

LAKE LIFE (Aquatic Ecology)
Watts Bar Lake is the perfect location to study the ecology of a lake community. Students will discover the various forms of life, food chains, cycles and environmental influences found in this aquatic ecosystem. Vocabulary like habitat, niche, predator, and prey are reiterated to students as they explore, collect and study the organisms they find. Students will participate in activities that demonstrate how important suitable habitat is to aquatic life and ways humans affect the ecosystem. After collection, the class will determine the health of the ecosystem by looking at bio-indicators.
**Students will be wading in the lake, so be sure to remind them to bring appropriate clothes and shoes that can get wet. No flip flops!***
***Because of the weather, this class is recommended for late spring through early fall.***
NATIVE WAYS (Native American Studies)
"Native Ways” takes students on a journey through time as they learn about the life of Native Americans throughout history in this area of Tennessee. Students will have the opportunity to experience several aspects of Native American life, which may include pictographs, hunting, gathering, games, and stories. While visiting the center’s three Native American mounds, students will discover how native people may have used these formations. The Native American’s respect for nature and connection to the environment is emphasized throughout the course.

PIONEER DAYS (Pioneer Life)
"Pioneer Days” aims to instill in students both an appreciation for their past and a sense of place in their present. Learning of the hardships that the American pioneers endured will attempt to give students a new respect for the human spirit. Performing some of the daily tasks of the early American settlers (dipping candles, making butter, making rope, etc.) will lead to an increased understanding and appreciation for the life these pioneers lived. The interdependence among families in a community and the wise allocation and conservation of limited resources in the past compared to modern times is also brought to light.
** There is an additional $3 materials fee for each participant of this class.

The rotten world of fungi is much more than just mushrooms! Often overlooked, or even shunned, this kingdom includes wonderfully diverse and fascinating species. Students will learn how fungi differ from plants, discover the common characteristics of all fungi and then take a hike to discover the amazing amount and variety of fungi right under their noses. Along the hike students will classify fungi into groups based on their methods of reproduction, investigate the mysterious relationship between fungi and algae, and see first hand the roles fungi play in the ecosystem. Finally, they’ll learn how fungi are important to people in every day life.
For some reason people do not think of insects as animals, yet this group makes up 90% of all the living creatures on earth! In this course students will discover the special characteristics that make an insect, an insect. They will also explore the various and fascinating ways that insects overcome the challenges of their environment through participating in activities that focus on insect defense, camouflage and communication. In addition students will learn that insects aren’t so bad - many provide valuable products and services for people.

Fish make up the largest group of vertebrates. In "Something’s Fishy,” students will learn all about this immense and impressive group of animals. They will discover the basic characteristics of all fish, types of fish adaptations, how fish move and how they fit into the food web. Students may even get to investigate the age of a fish by closely observing one scale! They’ll even get to test the belief "the smarter you are about fish, the smarter you’ll be about fishing.” Students will explore methods and equipment used in sport fishing and try their luck fishing in the Tennessee River. Students will discover the best ways of catching fish and find out how they can make sure this diverse species of animal will always swim in our waters.

Team Building Classes
The Challenge Course at River Ridge is a great way to build communication and teamwork among your group.  We have a variety of activities our facilitators can use to help your group build trust and cooperation.  Groups come to River Ridge from all over to learn the valuable life skills of teamwork, communication, and problem solving.  Each activity provides a unique challenge and can range in difficulty both physically and mentally, Challenges are debriefed so participants can discuss what kinds of behaviors were beneficial in achieving their goal and what they need to work on for the next activity.  We offer many different challenge course elements and countless team activities so it is possible to take challenge course for up to three class sessions.

This class utilizes the center's high ropes course to enable participants to reach "new heights" of trust, teamwork and communication.  The ropes, harnesses, cables, pulleys and helmets used to ensure safety on these elements are inspected by a certified ropes builder every year.  Walking across a balance beam that is 40 feet off the ground with the encouragement of fellow team members can be an incredible emotional and physical challenge!  The only requirement is the participant must fit into a harness.
Truly a challenge by choice activity, participants choose how high their team lifts them in the air.  Once they pull the rip cord to release, they fly back and forth, swinging through the trees.  This class gives participants the opportunity to push themselves outside of their comfort zone and build trust with their teammates.  The only requirement is the participant must fit into a full body harness.  

* Teacher favorite!
Surviving in the woods requires several things - food, water, shelter and teamwork.  This class focuses on using the experiences and knowledge of the entire group to overcome certain challenges they could be faced with in survival situations.  Students learn camping ethics such as "leave no trace", the seven basic needs for survival, fire building and shelter building. By working together to prioritize needs and solve problems that arise, students will discover important insights about group interactions, as well as practice valuable survival skills.

Your group will race around the camp in this fun-filled group scavenger hunt that involves lots of teamwork to figure out clues, find particular items, perform various challenges, etc.  It is an exciting way to be creative and work together.  
* This class involves a lot of walking.
Outdoor Recreation Classes
ON TARGET (Archery)
Learn the parts of the bow & arrow, how to aim and shoot, safety guidelines, and he importance of target sports within various cultures.  Students will be able to try their hand at this sport on our archery deck nestled in the woods, providing a primitive and wild sense of adventure in a controlled environment.  This class can also be tied in with our Native Ways class.
Recommended for 4th grade and above. 

PADDLE PUSHERS 1 & 2  (Canoeing)
Canoeing is an essential camp recreational activity that teaches teambuilding and communication.  In this course students will learn the parts of a canoe, identify parts of a paddle, rehearse paddling strokes and discuss boating safety.  Participants will then have an opportunity to practice and enjoy canoeing in the quiet cove between the center's first and second peninsulas.  (Offered April - October)
A certified lifeguard teaches this class.
* Choose Paddle Pushers 1 for 1 class session (1.5 hours)
* Choose Paddle Pushers 2 for 2 class sessions (3 hours)

CAMPFIRE GOURMET (Campfire Cooking)
In this course students will become campfire gourmets as they learn how amazingly versatile cooking over an open fire can be.  The students will learn several different cooking methods by actually doing them, and will even get to taste the results of their efforts! Items on the menu may include hobo pocket stew, dough boys, s'mores and fruit cobbler.  Teamwork and fire safety are also stressed.
There is an additional $3 materials fee for each participant in Campfire Gourmet.

Evening Classes
Want a night of brain teasers?  This evening program is a series of activities that challenge students to communicate, think under pressure, and work together as a team to accomplish various goals.  Tasks may include building a tower of clothespins, designing an aluminum foil boat that can hold the most rocks, or one of many other activities. Participants will accomplish the challenges in their assigned field groups.

Get ready for a fast paced program that runs much like a zany TV show.  Teams earn points for having the person with the most hilarious laugh, best group rendition of a nursery rhyme music video, best impersonation, most correct trivia answers, etc.  Dutch Auction is designed to heighten cooperation and the imagination.  For an added bonus, have students bring old costumes or unique clothing for a hint of zaniness!
*Recommended for groups of 30 or more.

A high energy, fun-filled night of wild and crazy games and activities sure to keep your group moving.

The night has always conjured visions of darkness and mystery.  Darkness provides many challenges for people and animals but all have adapted over time.  Learn about all things nocturnal by taking a hike through the woods and learning about senses, bioluminescence, stars, night vision and more!  Let us dispel myths, help overcome fears and encourage your students to better understand and appreciate the forest at night.  Great for all ages!
* Fall is the optimal time to experience a night hike.  Schools wishing to take this course in the spring will have their typical daily schedules changed to ensure darkness during this class.
This class aims to instill in students both an appreciation for their past and a sense of place in their present.  Learning of the hardships that the American pioneers endured will attempt to give students a new respect for the human spirit.  Performing some of the daily tasks of the early American settlers (dipping candles, making butter, twisting rope, etc.) will lead to a new understanding and appreciation for the life these pioneers lived.  The interdependence among families in a community and the wise allocation and conservation of limited resources in the past compared to modern times is also brought to light.  Special mention of pioneers who called John Knox Center home is also highlighted.
There is an additional $3 materials fee for each participant in Pioneer Fair.
What better way to have the ultimate camp experience than to sing songs, participate in skits and listen to stories around a campfire?  Our staff will have you laughing in your seats and cheering on your students as everyone takes part in the fun.  Great for all ages.
*Recommended for large groups