Experiential LearningTo kick off the school year during the first week of September, Upper School students were introduced to new Upper School retreat destinations: Camp Keystone and Camp Hess Kramer. Freshmen and Sophomores headed to Camp Keystone while Juniors and Seniors boarded buses to Camp Hess Kramer for their two-day, overnight retreats, designed to take students out of their daily environments to experience the challenge of navigating a new and natural environment. Because the trips take place at the beginning of the year, these experiences prove to be paramount in building self-confidence and student relationships. It is an opportunity for students, both new and returning, to build community and camaraderie with their teachers and each other through small group workshops, hiking, high-ropes courses, beach games, service projects, campfires, and team-building activities.
One of these team-building activities encouraged students to work together to create and and execute a plan to achieve a common goal. Split into small groups, students were charged with building an inflatable raft capable of supporting the weight of one person, with each group using different materials. Upper School faculty chaperones enjoyed watching the process unfold. Upper School reading teacher Sara Faulkner emphasized the value of the experiential learning trips. "It was interesting to watch how different students exhibited leadership qualities that weren't apparent in the structured setting of the classroom; it was an eye-opening moment for me."
Reflecting on the retreats, "I witnessed many beautiful moments of teamwork and bonding. The students were very supportive and encouraging of each other as they dared climbing rock walls, scaled complicated ropes courses and built boats that they competed to keep afloat."