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Operation Adventure celebrates 50 years of outdoor fun

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Operation Adventure, a summer outdoor program for Bloomington Public Schools middle school students. What began as a high school summer school program in 1968 has evolved into a weeklong recreational trip to northern Minnesota and Wisconsin.

This year the group includes about one hundred seventh and eighth grade students and several high school students serving as junior advisors. They will spend June 11-15 on Minnesota’s North Shore and northern Wisconsin camping, hiking and kayaking.

Thousands of BPS students have participated in OA over the years, some returning as volunteers in high school and college. Many parents and grandparents of campers were once Bloomington OA students that made the trip in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.


Operation Adventure was created in 1968 by three Kennedy High School teachers: Richard T. Anderson, phy. ed.; Roger House, social studies; and Lawrence Thomforde, science.

OA began as a 4-week summer school program exploring the geography, geology, history and biology of the region. Packed with physical activities like swimming, canoeing, hiking, camping and physical fitness, students could receive high school credit for either phy ed, science, or social studies. In the mid-70s, Operation Adventure expanded to include Jefferson High School and the four Bloomington junior high schools.

In the 80s, the program shifted to middle school students only. Today, Operation Adventure is a weeklong camping trip for seventh and eighth graders and certified teachers from the three district middle schools. The first part of the week is spent at Gooseberry Falls State Park hiking, swimming and camping. Mid-week, the group travels to Brule River State Forest in northwest Wisconsin to camp, canoe and kayak on the Bois Brule River. For many students, it’s the first time camping, hiking, canoeing or kayaking. For some, it is their first time experiencing the North Shore or the North woods.  For others, it may be their first time away from home.

Fun Facts

  • OA Coordinator Todd Anderson, Oak Grove Middle School social studies teacher, is the oldest son of program founder Richard T. Anderson. He has made 26 OA trips in his 28 years of teaching. “It has been a real honor to carry on my dad’s legacy,” said Anderson.
  • Anderson’s brother Reid, a middle school Phy Ed teacher in Utah is launching Operation Adventure at his school this year, exploring regional, national and state parks while camping, hiking, slot canyoneering, rock climbing and white water rafting.
View promotional and historical videos at