At the beginning of each trimester Eagle Rock students and several staff members participate in house retreats — a pair of days that enables members of each house to reconnect and bond with each other.
This trimester, Juniper, Ponderosa and Aspen houses took to the mountains and went snowboarding at Vail Resort. A number of staff and students had been on the trip in previous years, but for many, this was their first experience on a snowboard. There was plenty of anticipation and excitement as students suited up for their day on the slopes.
Vail Resorts sponsored eagle Rock’s Ride School and SOS Outreach, a nonprofit that uses adventure sports to engage youth, took care of getting the students the professional instruction they required to snowboard at Vail. Students began their day by thinking about discipline — which is among SOS Outreach’s six core values — and what it means to them. With these thoughts in mind, students strapped in and began their day.
The students and staff began by learning how to balance on their boards, with many mastering how to turn and stop. Falling was fairly typical as it is with all new snowboarders, but positive attitudes prevailed and laughter was the general response after nearly each wipeout.
Eventually many were cleared to ride the chairlift and practice the skills they learned independently. Overall, the experience provided everyone with a challenging, rewarding, and fun day.
Besides some lumps, lot of laughs and reconnecting with one another, the purpose of this adventure was to illustrate how falling down and picking oneself up again can become a learned experience that can be less painful each time. This is something all of us experience, whether it is in our on-campus houses, in our relationships with one another or in the world at large.
Hand in hand with facing life’s hurdles is the ability to help others — either by physically plucking them out of a snow pile or by encouraging them to not give up. The snow day also was an opportunity to learn from experienced teachers, accepting instruction and the reaping the reward by successful completing a run down one of the nation’s most vaulted ski hills.
All of this entails getting up and out of your comfort zone — especially if recreational snow is a new experience. And it’s all in line with how we feel life should be lived in a community like Eagle Rock and well beyond.
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About the Author: Brett Youngerman, Eagle Rock School’s 2015/2016 Public Allies Teaching Fellow In Literacy & Literature, creates curriculum aimed at improving student literacy across all subject areas. Originally from Hillsborough, N.J., Brett received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Goucher College in 2010 and then began work as an outdoor education facilitator at Genesee Valley Outdoor Learning Center in Parkton, Md. He recently completed his Masters of Arts in teaching at Towson University.