Frost Valley back on the radar for middle schoolers in Sayville and across Long Island


The school trip to Frost Valley — a sort of rite of passage for hundreds of thousands of Long Island middle school students over the last four decades — is back in the mix this year.

In a sign that school life is approaching some form of a pre-pandemic normal, Sayville schools bussed more than 70 of its 8th and 9th graders up to the popular environmental education center in Upstate New York for its three-day program.

The school district said that guidelines for returning to the YMCA Environmental Educational program gave this year’s 8th grade class the chance to experience the class-bonding and valuable hands-on learning that typically comes with going to Frost Valley.

Last year’s 8th graders — now freshmen in high school — also were afforded the opportunity to make the trip, being that their trip was cancelled due to COVID-19 last year. So both classes took the trip on a staggered schedule, the district said.

On their trips this fall, the Sayville kids — chaperoned by select middle school and high school staff — learned team-building skills, hiked the extensive outdoor educational facility and explored such activities as orienteering with a traditional compass and map, forest ecology, geology and night awareness.

There was also a visit from the “Bird Man,” a conservationist who delighted students with his collection of rescued local birds.

“Sayville’s social-and-emotional learning program — S.T.R.I.D.E.S. — was integrated into every aspect of the three-day program, which was carefully planned and managed by a team of teachers spearheaded by Middle School teacher Mr. Papalia,” high school English teacher Doug Shaw said.

Nestled in the Catskill Mountains, Frost Valley is a 5,500-acre camp, retreat destination and environmental education center offering enriching and sometimes life-altering, outdoor experiences. It’s about a two-hour drive north of New York City.

Photos provided by Sayville schools.