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      Students spend a week in nature

      The classroom has moved outdoors this week for seventh graders at Bothwell Middle School. Since Monday, students from the Marquette school have been at Bay Cliff Health Camp.

      The week is the school's annual science camp experience. Over 210 students raised money throughout the year to get this opportunity.

      Seventh grader Joseph Pelto is getting up close with nature by digging through a pond and bog with his ecology class.

      "Nature is your friend," said Pelto. "There are lots of things that can harm you, but there are lots of things that can't. It's just a great experience; I wish everybody could get the chance to do it."

      The week centers around science, specifically ecology, according to Jennifer Tapolcai, a teacher at Bothwell.

      "They get a chance to get out and experience the pond and the bog," said Tapolcai. "They may have never been in a bog before. We don't allow them to bring their gadgets, so there's no phones, there's no video games."

      All week, a technician and volunteer from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been working with the students. On Thursday, they got to look at invasive species like sea lamprey.

      Other students took a first aid class or took pictures of nature. This is the 41st year that Bothwell students have been at Bay Cliff.

      "Some of their parents have come here, and it's such a longstanding tradition for Bothwell," Tapolcai said. "It's a tremendous undertaking for the teachers. We work all year long to make this the best possible experience for them. It is one of those things that they will always remember."

      It is time out of the classroom that seventh grader Laura Beckman enjoys.

      "It's a fun way to get away from all the stress of having homework and everything," said Beckman. "We still learn down here, but it's just more fun because you do more activities."

      "It's a lot better because it's a hands-on experience. You don't just sit there at a desk, at a book and just read words. You get to look in it and touch it and look at it and feel it. You get the whole experience of it," Pelto added.