Outdoor Awareness


Outdoor Awareness (OA) is a semester class you can take in your 8th-grade year at Cherokee. The teacher is Coach Gray, the seventh-grade basketball coach. Outdoor Awareness is a class that gives students outdoor experience that they don’t usually get in the average class. In OA, students learn skills like fishing, caving, and gun skills. Kids even get to shoot a .22 caliber rifle.

The first shooting and fishing field trips fell on September 22nd, 26th, and 29th. The second caving and fishing field trips fell on October 25th, 26th, and 27th. I asked Coach Gray which one was his favorite field trip and he said that he loved both, which is completely understandable. On each field trip, the students got to go fishing and eat lunch at the pond after either shooting at Bodark or going caving at Giboney Cave.

The students get hands-on experience with going into a cave habitat and shooting a gun. They put up their own targets and shoot by themselves (with the adult assistance if needed, of course!) And after, they get to go fishing in a pond for the rest of the day. The whole day is quite exciting and gives students the chance to show what they learned in class. And if they already knew about it, Coach Gray said that “We gave them some more experience.”

Outdoor Awareness, among many other things, is something we are very lucky to have at our school. Cherokee, Carver, Jarrett, and Pleasant View all have OA as well. Coach Gray said that Reed tried to run a program, but he has not heard much about it. Not many students have the opportunity to experience what we get to experience! Students are building fires, going fishing, shooting guns, etc. You get to do things you wouldn’t get to do if you didn’t take OA.

When asking Coach Gray what he would like to add to Outdoor Awareness in general, he replied with “adding crossbows.” He said that his favorite part of teaching Outdoor Awareness was seeing kids have their firsts, such as shooting a gun for the first time, catching their first fish, starting their first fire. That is something that he gets to experience, and I truly believe that is something special. He said that the hardest thing is fitting all of the lessons into one semester. Coach Gray teaches camping, archery, tree stands, Hunter Ed, fishing, map & compass, and endangered species. That is a lot of things to fit into a single semester! But Coach Gray has managed to do it and makes it fun for the students to learn in the class.

Coach Gray will be retiring after many years at Cherokee Middle School. He stated that “OA has come a long way since 20 years ago.” The school will miss his work here at Cherokee, and we wish him the best of luck. We can only hope that OA will be as amazing as it has been with Coach Gray next year! So, if you are a 7th grader and get the chance to join Outdoor Awareness next year, do join the class, because you learn so much throughout the entire semester!