" You go to nature for an experience of the sacred - to re-establish your contact with the core of things, where it’s really at, in order to enable you to come back to the world of people and operate more effectively. Seek ye first the kingdom of nature, that the kingdom of man might be realized.." -Willi Unsoeld, former TMI Field Instructor and member of the first American team to summit Mt. Everest
Monday, November 3, 2014
Langley Students Return to Spruce Mountain
A student waves the group's flag at the top of Spruce Knob.
A few weeks ago, we were happy to host forty or so 7th grade students from Langley School for their annual camping trip. The instructors divided the kids into three groups and geared them up with backpacks, sleeping bags, and sleeping mats before setting off into the windswept wilderness.
Langley School had requested that we work on group dynamics in particular with their students, so in addition to stream studies, caving, and geology discussions, we also talked about group interaction and kindness and compassion. The first night, me and my co-instructor developed a group contract with our ten students, which they wrote onto a repurposed pillowcase with a sharpie. Rules of the contract that the students came up with during our brainstorming session included:
"Celebrate the animals we see in the woods!"
"Check in with other group members and give them help if they need it."
"Keep a lighthearted attitude."
"Say what you mean, but in a kind way."
The students signed their pillowcase and attached it to a branch, turning it into a flag. The students took turns throughout the trip being the flagbearer. The kids did a great job of remembering and referring back to the contract, and the rules sparked lots of thoughtful conversations during the trip. In particular, they helped focus conversation after activities like a blindfolded walk. We were able to bring the flag all the way with us to Spruce Knob, and the flagbearer became a convenient sighting target for our orienteering. At the end of the trip, the students took home the flag, planning to put it up in their math classroom as a reminder of how they could shape their own communities for the better.