News - Off Campus
Summer Term Experiences
Summer is now clearly past and the business of fall is upon us. But many here on campus are still harboring the glow of exceptional experiences that took place over the summer. Three students were chosen to present at the opening Parents’ Association meeting some thoughts on Waterford trips they participated in this summer. Excerpts of the talks they gave are below.
Samantha M. traveled to Norway for the Arctic Dreaming trip — sailing, skiing, and climbing at the top of the world.
[…] The first week of the trip was hard for me. I enjoyed the things we were doing and learning but I didn’t feel connected to what was happening around me. I kept looking behind me, waiting for the day when I could see my family again. Writing pages and pages in my journal about how much I missed everyone back home. But one day, maybe half way through the trip, I stopped. And I looked up. Suddenly, I fell from whatever cloud I had been watching the trip from. Suddenly I was connected; I was in sync with my surroundings. I actually saw the amazing land around me. I think it was one of the most beautiful feelings I have ever had. I’d never felt so connected to everything and yet so much like myself.
The rest of the trip was the best week and a half of my life. The relative strangers that I had passed in the hallway every day were now my family. The once unfamiliar boats were my home. Sailing was a part of my life. My world revolved around sailing. Climbing became a challenge I found solace in. I came to know myself. Being at home in familiar places with familiar people, I had lost track of myself. I was a hollow reflection of what other people thought of me. But when I was tossed into a new life that held hardly any familiarity, I had to learn who I thought I was.
To quote the song that for many of us became the theme song of the trip:
We’ve been waiting all our lives
For things we’ve always had
But have no eyes to see.
Something new is going to happen,
The most natural thing
But nothing we’d expect
This summer, I have breathed in the wind and felt it, still alive, in my lungs.
I have stood, perched on the tips of my skies, poised at the top of a ribbon of snow, facing the world.
I have finally realized why people hike over two hours to ski for two minutes.
I have summited a mountain and been at the top of the earth.
I have travelled with nothing but the wind.
I have watched the sun endlessly dip into a sunset at one in the morning.
I have been lulled to sleep by the rocking of a boat.
I have used every cliche possible in attempt to describe the Arctic world I’ve come to know. I have tried and tried to capture this world through my camera lens, but somehow, even a perfectly composed photograph cannot tame the wild landscape.
All I can give you are snapshot memories of this trip, and tell you that what I have now is part of who I have become.
Katelyn S. traveled with a group of students and faculty to Cedar City for the annual Shakespeare Festival.
[…] One character I found interesting this year was Aaron, a moor and the lover to the Goth Empress of Rome. When she produces an illegitimate son by him, he goes to great lengths to protect the child, eventually laying down his own life to ensure his son’s safety. However, he also spends quite a lot of stage time listing horrible deeds he has performed, and he encourages the rape and mutilation of a young newly-wedded girl. As we were going back to the hotel that night, I discussed Aaron’s actions with a few of the other students — was he ultimately a likable character? Did his devotion to his infant son excuse him from his crimes? I felt that he was contemptible; he did not regret his actions, and I interpreted his protectiveness toward his child as pride in his first-born, rather than a display of emotional depth. Others disagreed with me, saying that Aaron didn’t have anyone to care about before the birth of his son, and his protection of the child at the cost of his own life redeemed him.
And that is the great brilliance of these plays: unlike so many other forms of fiction, they rarely tell you who is good and who is bad. Shakespeare in particular presents so many fascinating conundrums: the Macbeths, Shylock and Antonio, and even Titus have similarly complicated moral standpoints. Plays are the perfect demonstration of the complexity of life and how it is perceived from infinite subjective viewpoints.
Every year, the Shakespeare Festival reminds me that “the world’s a stage, and all the people merely players” (As You Like It). The plays and discussions show me how differently the world is perceived by everyone who lives in it — by studying the actions of the characters, by seeing the different reactions to them in the audience, even by seeing what my peers notice in the performance that I do not. This, I think, is exactly what makes plays so appealing; they are all, in some way, a study in what it is to be human.
Shravan R. participated in both the Mt. Whitney Mountaineering trip and the Class IX Interim trip in the Wasatch mountains.
Let me start with my trip in the Eastern Sierras. This was my first time doing backpacking or camping of any sort. And as one of my instructors, Matt Hanson [class of ‘08], told me at the Whitney summit, I did not take things in small steps. […] My experience wasn’t restricted to learning only about outdoor skills. I learned about different types of rocks and minerals from Matt, and it was extremely interesting, because he was always able to find a rock and show me in real time the things he was talking about. And over the course of the trip, I gained a whole new perspective and respect for nature. We had some close encounters with lightning, whose power is awesome. But the longest lasting lesson is that of leave no trace. I was able to enjoy a beautiful and pristine environment. And it’s heartbreaking when you take a look around and see all the trash and garbage people have left behind. All of us on the trip took this to heart, and by the end, we had filled three garbage bags with trash that wasn’t ours. Overall, the entire trip was a spectacular experience, and one that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
The Class IX Interim trip is also a spectacular experience, and one that I truly hope the school continues to offer to all those who come into Class IX. […] I learned so much about my friends, things that I didn’t know before. But once again, the entire trip was a huge learning experience, just adding on to all the things I learned on the Whitney trip. For example, I learned how to do a bear hang, which we never did on Whitney because we had bear canisters. I also learned how to use iodine in the treatment of water, which we didn’t do on Whitney because we were always using a filter. And there was the off-trailing we did, which taught me how to most effectively descend a stretch of mountain slope. But once again it wasn’t all outdoor skills. There was also much to learn from the various teachers that would hike in and talk to us. How to catch and store river bugs, from Mr. Bromley. The origin and meaning of the original haiku, from Mr. Gauthier. How to properly utilize a watercolor block, from Mr. Brewer. And my respect for and amazement at nature only increased.