At the end of each trimester, Eagle Rock School’s graduates head out on the trail for the traditional Grad Wild camping trip, a two-night experience that enables these grads to connect with one another and collectively and individually reflect on their Eagle Rock journey.
Much more condensed that the nearly three-week wilderness trek undertaken by our newest students, Grad Wild provides a brief but important time for grads to share their trepidations, hopes and dreams as they prepare to transition out of living at Eagle Rock.
On a Friday afternoon during the first week in December, students Alysha Dan, Javon Banks, Stacy Escobar, and Katie-Lynn DeRaps packed up their gear and headed out to the campsite, which is about a mile from the main campus. And, despite chilly temperatures, the graduates stayed up late playing card games, drinking hot chocolate and regaled each other with favorite Eagle Rock memories.
The next morning, the four students cooked breakfast and headed out to a lookout spot on campus, offering beautiful views of Shaman and Bonepipe peaks — two spectacular mountains that are particularly popular hiking destinations for students.
Each grad then headed off in a different direction for a solo experience in order to meditate and reflect on the growth experienced here. The solo excursion encourages students to be self-reflective and self-aware. While on their solos, each graduate received a journal with questions that prompted them to focus on personal growth and life after Eagle Rock.
Returning to their tents, each had the opportunity to share their reflections with the others. During the share out, several students spoke about the desire to create lives built on the values they developed at Eagle Rock. They discussed the importance of finding communities that value diversity and they talked about exploring and impacting the world through volunteer opportunities.
They also spoke about their fears of becoming mired in conformity, and what it means to live an unconventional lifestyle. And through each of their reflections, our four recent graduates revealed the skills they developed at Eagle Rock as tools to be use throughout their lives.
On Sunday morning Meg Rebeiro, director of students, surprised the grads at their campsite with doughnuts and a few words of wisdom. She reminded them that they each have a tremendous amount of personal and academic growth to celebrate.
The students then packed up their belongings, swept out their tents, organized a wood pile and enjoyed a few moments of quiet. Alysha, Javon, Stacy and Katie-Lynn each returned to our mountainsie campus with renewed thoughts of changing the world in beautiful and various ways.
Such traditional wilderness experiences become ingrained in students throughout their stay at Eagle Rock — from their first weeks on campus to the greatly abbreviated graduation wilderness trip — further emphasizing the importance the environment has to our campus and to the world at large.
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About the Author: Joi Ward is the 2016/2017 Public Allies Fellow in Health, Wellness & Counseling. This second-year fellow is originally from Virginia. She attended Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., where she studied sociology and music.