Outdoor Action Trip, a Ninth Grade Tradition

Karl Palmgren, Head of Upper School
The ninth grade was out in the wilderness testing their mettle and leadership skills against the elements and 3,500 foot Catskill peaks, and they did so with a unique combination of determination and panache.
I have been lucky enough to spend a good amount of time with each of the four groups in their base camps, and I had the pleasure of summiting Fir Mountain with Mrs. Carroll’s group. Along the trail, in camp and during guide-led debriefs, I was struck by what resonated with our ninth graders and how they internalized and extrapolated some significant insights around life, facing challenges and personal growth. Let me share a few things that I heard:
  • The woods and wilderness didn’t care what our plans were, we needed to adjust when things didn’t go the way we thought they would. And it all worked out OK
  • I can deal with the uncertainty and unpredictability of nature- and maybe other things too
  • You must be aware and attuned to things around you
  • Be ready to adapt and keep calm when things are confusing or scary
  • Resilience is important- you have follow-through on what you say
  • Be sure to take time to reflect
Our guides were wonderful in pointing out that all the challenges our students faced and all the learning done in the mountains was also applicable to both school and life in general. I feel this trip has served as a springboard for a year of personal growth and school leadership for our 9th graders. I am excited to see where this special class leads us and how they will leave the Upper School a different and better place than the one they walked into on September 4th.