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Students Trading Pencils for Paddles in Sullivan County

FORKSVILLE, Pa. -- Sixth graders in Towanda Area School District have ditched their pencils for paddles.

Teachers have taken on the role of counselors and students are campers at Camp Brule in Forksville.

"In school, you can't really like talk to your friends and stuff, so when you get a break and you're outside and hanging out with your friends in a group with them, it's pretty fun," said Michael Ferrulli, sixth grader.

About 140 sixth graders at Towanda Elementary are spending three days at this sleep away camp.

The experience put on and mostly paid for by their school district has become a tradition.

"Mr. Delpiaz brought students 50 years ago and with the gratitude of the Towanda Area School District, they've allowed us to come for 50 years," said Kevin Route, learning support teacher.

In hopes of exposing students to wildlife and nature right in their backyard, a teacher in the 1960's came up with the idea. This is the 50th year Towanda has brought students to Camp Brule.

With all the camp activities, students are asked to leave their cell phones at home. If they bring them, they probably won't get cell service.

"It kind of makes it a lot easier to get off electronic and actually do stuff," said Michael.

"It's a great opportunity for downtime which we don't have a lot anymore in public schools," said Kelly Madden, learning support teacher.

Kelly Madden has been a teacher in the district for decades. She's been helping out at camp for over 30 years.

"I don't ever recall anyone ever saying I didn't have a great time at sixth-grade camp," said Madden.

That's part of the reason why the district hopes to continue the tradition.