We have a long tradition of taking middle school students on overnight trips. Trips away from school represent experiential learning at its best. Students and teachers are submerged in a new environment with learning from that environment and each other taking place every waking moment.
This year’s senior class, the class of 2015, was the first middle school eighth grade to attend a week long trip to Nature’s Classroom. As we planned a visit from Eric Weiss, the site director of our Nature’s Classroom location, I ran into one of the seniors, Mac, who was on that first Nature’s Classroom trip. I told Mac about Eric’s upcoming visit. Though he is now a site director, Eric Weiss was a teacher when we visited that first year. This senior, Mac, had fond memories of the trip, and was excited at the thought of seeing Eric again. I told Mac he was welcome to stop in during the MS assembly and say hello to Eric.
Given winter’s interruptions last week, I hardly thought about whether or not Mac would remember to stop in and see Eric. Just before the assembly, Mac appeared, with several friends in tow, and they took seats in the theater to await Eric’s arrival.
As luck would have it, Eric ran late. I found myself in the uncomfortable position of having dozens of sixth and seventh graders and some parents with nothing to do but wait. I approached the seniors and said, “You guys all liked Nature’s Classroom, right?” “We loved it!” was the enthusiastic response.
“How about doing a quick Q&A with the middle school students?” I asked. Without much hesitation, they agreed and reassembled near the stage. With great amusement, I noted that a couple of the seniors had not attended our middle school, but were nonetheless happily and appropriately passing on the wisdom of their years about what it is like to be away from home with a school group.
So, hats off to the seniors for saving the moment. They added credibility to the absolute certainly that the faculty and I have that these trips are well worth the time, energy and effort we put into them. The seniors, just by being their nostalgic and enthusiastic selves, gave the whole afternoon a wonderful boost. They reaffirmed that we are helping students form strong memories as we take them off campus.