Wednesday, October 8, 2014

St. Paul's School

Last week we had the privilege of working with the 8th grade boys from St. Paul's School in Brooklandville, MD for the first time. Two charter buses arrived on Tuesday, packed with 51 students and 7 faculty members dressed for the elements. The group embarked on a traditional "spruce course," the kind TMI has been running for nearly 40 years. Students and faculty split into five groups and set out for their camps - Spruce, Catchment, Back Ridge, Five Corners, and the Beaver Ponds. Over the course of the next three days, they summitted Spruce Knob, traversed the Sinks of Gandy cave, and learned the ins and outs of camping, cooking, and living as a group in the backcountry.

At the end of the week, students, teachers, and Instructors converged at the gearshed in the inky darkness before sunrise to wash pots, put away gear, and change back into civilian clothes by headlamp. Despite the early wake-up, everyone came out of the woods with smiles on their faces. Here are some comments from students and teachers:

"This was an extremely valuable experience for our students. A program I certainly hope our school will continue."

"I learned that all of us have some kind of hidden ability."

A teacher that was here years back with a different school commented, "I have never had a group respond to all of the activities so well. [This course is] better than I even remembered."

"I learned that all my classmates aren't afraid to face their fears."

"I learned that we have a great community at our school and we can come together really well."

"Both Instructors are great teachers - their enthusiasm is contagious - they were honest about their strengths and weaknesses and set a perfect tone between seriousness and fun."

While this is the first time TMI has worked with St. Paul's boys' middle school, the girls' school came to Spruce for many years in the 1980s. It's always a treat to get to work with a new school and have the opportunity to create a great first impression. I can't imagine this week having gone much better and all of us here are excited to work with St. Paul's for years to come.

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