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Posted on Sep 21, 2012

Sixth Graders Bond During Outdoor Overnight Trip

September 20, 2012

Last week, Gillispie sixth graders headed to Dixon Lake in Escondido for an overnight camping trip. Yes, the lake was “beautiful with the sun glinting off of dark, turquoise water,” and the s’mores cooked by the campfire were delicious, but the students shared with me in discussion and journaling the more significant lessons they learned.

The class agreed that studying star constellations and viewing shooting stars in complete silence provided some of the greatest moments of the trip–they understood the importance of being present and comfortable with stillness. “We went night hiking, looking at the beautiful stars like diamonds in a dark blanket; we laid down and listened to the silent night.”

The students learned tenacity as well as they rode mountain bikes up a steep hill on a “blistering day.” As one student described it, though some walked and some rode up the hill, they felt the victory of having all made it. “Finally we got to the top and all our faces were cherry red! But we had fought through it!”

As the group bonded, they recognized how much they were relying on each other to achieve group goals. Some felt a sense of cooperation as they built the tents, while others felt it as they problem solved as a team to cross a fictional “acid river.” To achieve a successful crossing, one foot had to remain on the floor (representing being well grounded) and their hands had to remain touching (reminding them of their interconnectedness).

Did they get dirty? They sure did. In fact, one mother required her sixth grader to take a second welcome-home shower saying, “Go back in!” The greatest endorsement the sixth graders could give the trip was, “We wish we could go again.”

Alison Fleming
Head of School

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