Thanks to a 2022 Go Outside Fund grant, Jonathan Coronado, a recent graduate of Escuela Verde high school in Milwaukee, led a three-day camping trip at Potawatomi State Park for 12 students. Jonathan completed his senior thesis project on the camping trip’s impact on the students’ connection to nature.
Read on to hear Jonathan’s experience leading students on the camping trip, and his own personal experience connecting to the outdoors.
Jonathan and his fellow students resting during a hike. Photo by Larissa Bogle-Boesigner
Jonathan’s changing relationship with the outdoors
My name is Jonathan Coronado. I’m a recent graduate of Escuela Verde High School in Milwaukee. I received a Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin grant to take students from Escuela Verde on a camping trip.
When I was younger I didn’t do much, I barely liked going outside. I didn’t like to be social and hated interaction with others. That didn’t get any better when I got my PS4 – I didn’t want to go to school, hated talking to people, and preferred to play video games. However, when I went to Escuela Verde I started to get bored with just playing games. I wanted something different. I became interested in trying and exploring new things in my life, like traveling and exploring some parts of the world, and just trying to enjoy my time being alive.
A pivotal experience that changed me was going camping at school in June of 2022. After that I wanted to do anything that involved camping. I just feel more relaxed when camping and I found that I sleep better when sleeping in a tent, on the ground. I feel camping is good because it can disconnect you from technology and reconnect you to nature.
Students at a lookout point during a hike. Photo by Larissa Bogle-Boesiger
The correlation between wellness and spending time outside
As a senior at Escuela Verde I had to do a senior thesis project that tried to impact an issue or problem. I did research for my project and found that camping is shown to increase physical health, reduce stress, and help build confidence. Undeniably, the research backed up what I had experienced. So, I decided to take more students camping. I was so happy to get the grant to help pay for our camping trips.
In May 2023 I went bike camping as part of a school trip. All the students that went on the biking trip said during the trip they were pushed to their limits, but had fun. Then, I helped my teachers lead a camping trip in June 2023. We went to Potawatomi State Park. I helped the younger students set up their tents, build a fire, cook food, and go canoeing.
Two students smiling at the camera while on a hiking trail next to Lake Michigan. Photo by Larissa Bogle-Boesiger
So how did the camping trip go?
I am passionate about this topic because I found that it helped me at a time when I felt I hit a roadblock in my life where I was bored with life and needed something different. I think that this camping trip made an impact on the other students, too.
Here are some quotes that I gathered about the trip:
I’m really glad I can do things like camping at EV. Being able to camp and go on trips makes me want to come to school.
I was really nervous about camping but it’s been really fun. I really like everyone who came on the trip.
Students roasting marshmallows by the fire at camp. Photo by Larissa Bogle-Boesiger
I’ve camped with my family before but I really like camping with my friends.
This is the best experience of my whole life. I can’t wait to come back!
I can see from these quotes that the other students had a pivotal experience just like I did. I’m happy and proud that I was able to help and inspire other students. I hope that they go on camping trips at school and with their families. I think that any of them could help lead another camping trip and keep the legacy of this trip going at Escuela Verde.
Jonathan Coronado (he/him/his)
Recent graduate of Escuela Verde high school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
For his senior thesis project, Jonathan researched the impacts of a camping trip on students’ connection to nature. Being in a leadership role increased Jonathan’s confidence and he made additional plans with his family to go camping over the summer!
Supporting nature-based learning experiences
Thank you to NRF’s supporters who make work like this possible! Our members helped support this educational camping trip through the Go Outside Fund.
The Go Outside Fund provides funding that helps connect youth to outdoor, nature-based learning experiences. Teachers or partner organizations may apply for funding to cover costs that facilitate getting kids outside and hands-on with nature, such as purchasing field supplies, or paying for transportation, substitute teachers, or educator costs.
Interested in supporting nature-based learning experiences? Donations to the fund can be made online at www.WisConservation.org/donate and should be designated to the “Go Outside Fund.”