Check out School Counselor Chris L.’s video of the Wilderness Inspired Leadership Development (WILD) production company camping trip to Sleeping Giant:



And English teacher Liz’s reflection:

Our kids are amazing. They hiked far, with 50 lb. packs on their backs, up steep and rocky terrain. They lead and swept the group. They read maps, made choices, and navigated to the site; they helped each other when one fell, slipped, needed a heavy pack hoisted, needed zipping or tugging of straps. They unpacked, built camp, collected wood, cooked, cleaned, broke down camp, worked together to hang a bear bag 10 feet above the ground; they picked up litter that didn’t belong to them. And not ONCE, all weekend, did I hear one kid complain. They were really amazing. They were respectful of each other and the woods; they were kind to each other when leading, delegating and taking orders. They were gracious and loving. They “left no trace” of having been in the woods. And most of all, they were KIDS: laughing, singing, playing games, making music out of cups, claps and benches. They reflected on the weekend openly and at the end–they thanked us for taking them on this trip. Awesome.

And I am equally proud of my colleagues. Maybe proud isn’t the right word. I admire each one of them so much after this weekend……

Paul is the ultimate mountain man, grizzly Adams, McGiver, that you’d want with you if a pack of coyotes happened to be howling all night long. He knows every knot, every trail detail, what to do, how to do it, etc. on just about anything in the wild. It’s ridiculous. And on top of the fact that he drove to Boston to get the truckloads of gear our kids would need the day before the trip (then spent hours with Baker and Chris to separate and pack it all), he has an enthusiasm that is infectious with the students. It was clear that they trust him, admire him, respect him, and generally enjoy all he has to teach. (His beef jerky was a big hit with them as well.)

Baker is a gadget geek with almost as much enthusiasm for the wilderness as Paul. She has a way of keeping order, commanding attention, and ensuring the safety of the kids without seeming harsh. Her role was to explain the WHY of everything. Why you hang the bear bag, why you don’t run on the trail, why you stay together, why you don’t leave plastic on the ground, why coyotes don’t want to come to our camp, etc. She shopped to make sure every kid had his/her own bowl, she bought extra tent stakes we’d need, and she too spent hours sorting, packing, doling, and tracking our borrowed equipment. Many of the kids deferred to her with their questions.

Chris, we dubbed the “teen-whisperer”. He has a way with kids that is unparalleled. While he too worked his butt off before the trip, and while he too knows a lot about and is clearly enthusiastic about hiking and camping–his greatest asset is really his calming effect on the kids. He is so even tempered and thoughtful and kind. (And infinitely more patient with teenagers than I’ll ever be.) He always thinks about what the kids will need in each situation (both emotionally and physically). What struck me the most was how much he admittedly enjoyed watching the kids be kids. Pretty cool dude.

Our kids are very, very lucky. These three teachers are the real deal. What the kids learned from them and from the woods this weekend—if we could bottle it for the classroom—woo, look out mastery based learning. It was unreal. Special shout-out to Chris’ wife, Elisabeth and to Mary (and her niece) and to Michelle K. (and her hubby-to-be) for joining the kids for a time as well. They loved seeing their teachers out there.