Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Do You Have Your Winter Warmth Tickets Yet?

For over ten years The Mountain 103.7FM has been supporting First Place through their Winter Warmth Concert and we couldn't be more excited each year when we start hearing our name on the radio!

This year the concert features Brett Dennen with special appearances by Brandi Carlile and Grace Potter and The Nocturnals.

We hope you can join us there, Sunday December 6 at The Moore Theatre at 7:30pm. Learn more about the event.

Tickets are $25 through STG Presents and a portion of proceeds benefits the children and families at First Place.

"Everyone in the Mountain community is glad to continue our connection with First Place. Our listeners know the importance of supporting the good work being done at First Place and we all look forward to this year’s Winter Warmth Concert and the chance to share the good music and the holidays together." --Dave Benson, Program Director at The Mountain 103.7FM
A huge thank you to everyone at The Mountain for their ongoing support of First Place. Every year they are committed to promoting our mission and this year and Sean Demery interviewed us on the morning show.

Friday, November 6, 2009

ABC's of Ecosystems - Day 4 at Islandwood

On our last day at Islandwood students and staff had mixed emotions about our camp experience. On one hand, we are excited to come home and see our friends and family. At the same time, we will miss the Islandwood staff and the friends we have met over the past week. Overall, the trip was a success and we will be bringing back great memories of our Islandwood camp experience.
This morning after breakfast we spent time in the lodge packing for the trip home. Then, students went back out into the field for one more outdoor experience with nature. Students talked with their field group instructors about what they have learned this week at camp. Many students reflected on all of the new experiences they had at camp, "I had never seen a banana slug before!", and "I had never seen a deer before", "I never thought I could be away from my mom for this long", or "I was afraid to be in the woods, but now I see that its a lot of fun!"

Students also reviewed of the ABC's of ecosystems, Abiotic, Biotic and Cultural, and made plans to work with students from other schools to become better stewards of our environment.

Islandwood was such a unique experience and we are sad to see it end, but we look forward to applying what we have learned about our environment and bringing this new information back to our First Place family.
After our final meeting at the Friendship Circle, we said goodbye to our friends at Islandwood, and headed home.

Drumming and Lunch on the Beach - Day 3 at Islandwood

Wednesday was our last full day at camp. First Place students watched a video at Islandwood's Learning Studio on the history Bainbridge Island and Blakely Harbor. They learned about different people from around the world that settled at Port Blakely over one hundred years ago and what life was like on the island back then. Some students asked, "What was life like for kids back then?" and "Why did people settle at Bainbridge Island instead of Seattle?"

Next they explored the history of the island even further by hiking three miles to the beach to explore animals and plants in that ecosystem. Students had lunch on the beach and then hiked back to campus where they participated in a drumming workshop in the Art Studio. Students learned how to play a beat on the Djembe, a popular West African drum, and learned a song in a West African language, which meant, "Welcome. I greet you with my mind, my lips, and my heart. I come in peace."
The highlight of the day was the evening Campfire Ceremony where students from different schools performed skits, poems, and other special talents. One of our students teamed up with a student from Roxhill Elementary and performed a breakdance routine. At the end of the night, we had our own talent show back at our lodge and students prepared to end their week at camp.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

FP Students Sing to Banana Slugs - Day 2 at Islandwood

Now that the students have settled in comfortably at camp, our second day was all about learning to work together as a team.

Students in Team Pond started their day by playing an interactive game called "Owls, Mice and Seeds", an Islandwood favorite that teaches students the importance of the food chain, animal survival, and how different elements in nature may impact the food chain.
First Place students interacted with students from Bennett Elementary, and then participated in a ropes course in the Islandwood team course. Students had to work together as a team to complete a task and ultimately reach their goal of achieving team work. After lunch, Team Pond went to the garden, and sampled different foods growing in the Islandwood garden. Students also picked foods from the garden, and worked with Islandwood's kitchen chef's to prepare the dessert for tonight's meal- Apple Crisp and Pumpkin-Raisin cookies.

Along the journey today, students saw a banana slug. They were told that the banana slug would respond to singing, and the whole group burst into song, singing "Banana slug, Banana-nana-nana Banana Slug!"Some of the First Place staff's highlights from the day:

"I am noticing students working together and getting along."
"Islandwood helps students appreciate the environment as well as each other."
"I love that students who don't normally socialize together, are taking the time to make new friends."
"The students seem engaged and excited about science!"

Some of the students' highlights from the day:

"The pancakes at breakfast this morning were my favorite."
"I wanted to take the banana slug home with me!"
"I saw a decomposing bird in a tree and lots of fungus growing on trees in the woods."
"I saw a deer right outside our lodge, and took a picture!"
"I can't wait for dinner!"
"I learned about different kinds of mushrooms and which kinds of fungi are poisonous."Read about Day 1.

Check back tomorrow for more updates.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Volunteer Mentors Change Lives

For 11 years, Steve Wainwright has come through the doors of First Place once a week to mentor a student.

Volunteer mentors provided a much needed hour to students attending First Place. Steve sometimes gets the feeling that some of the kids aren’t listened to as much as they’d want. Being a mentor means listening, playing a game, coloring, practicing reading or even doing homework.

National research from Big Brothers Big Sisters shows that children who are mentored are:
  • 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs.
  • 27% less likely to begin using alcohol.
  • 52% less likely to skip school.
  • 37% less likely to skip a class.
  • more confident of their performance in schoolwork.
  • one-third less likely to hit someone.
  • getting along better with their families.
Steve knows what he’s doing is making a difference by giving one hour a week. His favorite moments are often at First Place Graduation when he sees pride in the eyes of the parents watching their children.

(Pictured above: Steve with a student at a year-end trip to Wild Waves.)

Steve says he appreciates the overall staff at First Place and that “everybody is focused on the right thing, consistently, year after year.”

If he could say anything to individuals who are considering volunteering at First Place, he would encourage males to give it some thought because their presence is underrepresented and much needed.

First Place currently has 15 students (mostly boys) waiting to be matched to a mentor.

If you are interested in being a volunteer mentor at First Place contact our Volunteer Manager, Joyce Scoggins, at (206) 323-6715 x1205.

First Place Students at Islandwood Nature Camp

Yesterday, Monday, November 2, 2009, the 4th, 5th and 6th grade classes headed to Islandwood on Bainbridge Island to participate in the School Overnight Program which uses the environment as a catalyst for learning.

First Place students and staff will be sending pictures and updates every day for the blog. Here is the first update:
Our first day at Islandwood was one of overwhelming excitement. The class was broken into two groups, Team Pond and Team Wave. It was non-stop activity starting with a hike to Mac's Pond where we got on a "floating classroom" raft that the students powered by turning a crank. After drawing the gorgeous lake scene we went back to our spectacular lodge, the "Bird's Nest", which has soaring ceilings, a fireplace and wonderful hot showers.

After a delicious turkey dinner with pineapple upside-down cake for dessert, Team Pond went on a night hike with no light except a very faint moonlight. That was exciting enough, but about halfway through our instructor Ms. Erin had us put on blindfolds for a "trust" walk. Holding on to each other we silently and swiftly made our way onto a footbridge at least 50 feet above a ravine.

What did the students think?
"The hike was scary, fun... It was fun to learn."
"It was scary...the bridge was shaking."
"It was creepy and I was really brave."

The other half of the class was inside learning to recognize fox and coyote scat (poop) and participating in an Ecosystem Challenge where they worked in small groups with students from Bennett Elementary and Roxhill Elementary to observe, describe and draw an ecosystem. Students also spent a lot of time today getting to know the Islandwood staff and learning the Islandwood way of life.

Team Wave said:
"The food at Islandwood is delicious!"
"I liked when we went to the Learning Treehouse and talked about how to respect nature."
"I liked eating at the dining hall and learning how to conserve food and how to use table manners."

Check back tomorrow afternoon for another update.

No names were used to protect the identity of the students.

Monday, November 2, 2009 School Rewards Program

You can now raise money for First Place when you purchase items on

All you need to do is click on the banner below from this blog or the First Place website before you make your purchases and First Place will receive up to 10% of your purchase price. It's that easy!