Wednesday, September 25, 2013

8th Grade Landon Boys Return to Spruce

On September 10th, I was nervous. The next day I would be welcoming twelve 8th-grade boys from the Landon School to Spruce Mountain, and I had never worked with an all-boys school before. I didn’t know what to expect. Twelve hours later, as we hiked to our campsite together, the boys barraged me, my co-instructor, and our awesome school chaperone with questions about the campsite and the mountain. This inquisitiveness would set the tone for the week. While I knew they would be excited to learn hard skills of campcraft, fire building, and survival, the boys surprised me with their curiosity about conservation, mushrooms, astronomy, and especially medicinal plants.

On our last full day together, the boys led us to the top of Spruce Knob using their new orienteering skills. They were eager to succeed, and while they sometimes struggled physically on the long hike and required a few pep talks, they hit their destination spot-on. Our time atop Spruce Knob encapsulated the best parts of our time together. The boys fearlessly climbed the boulders, devoured lunch, listened patiently to a geology lesson, sat quietly hunched over their journals as the rain lashed them during a brief storm, and joyfully played games together when the sun came out. That night they had to answer questions on what we’d taught that week to earn marshmallows for their s'mores, and they nailed it.

Overall, it was a great week for everyone. My co-instructor and I played Paper/Rock/Scissors to see who would get to spend one last hour laughing and playing with the boys as we waited for their bus to arrive, which is extremely rare at the end of a long week. It’s our hope they return to Landon with new friends, more confidence in their problem solving and endurance, and memories of wonder and fun out in the woods. And instead of nervous, I will be super excited to work with more all-boys schools in the future! - Katy Medley

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