Planning a Winter Camping Expedition – Junior Four Point Training

January 27, 2021
Meghan Young and Naomi Kramer gather plenty of wood for the campfire for the winter camping expedition

Meghan Young and Naomi Kramer gather plenty of wood for the campfire


Winter Camping Requires a lot of Prep

In a little more than five weeks, 11th graders will head into the woods on a nine-day winter camping expedition known as Junior Point. Often considered the highlight of Gould’s 30-year Four Point tradition, the winter camping experience is staffed and organized almost entirely by faculty (with a few parent, alumni, and emeriti helpers over the years).

Few schools could take on such a program, but Gould faculty are uniquely qualified. Still, Gould students are sometimes nervous or uncertain about the trip, so to make sure everyone is on the same page faculty leaders head to the Outward Bound campus in Newry for two nights of training each January.

I’m always so impressed with our faculty and their skill sets. It takes a unique individual to teach at a school like Gould because this type of teaching and facilitating is also part of what we do. Folks are experts in their subject areas, they coach, advise, and so much more. On top of that, many of them can also lead a group of students on a winter expedition in the Maine woods
Cooking over the campfire with a tripod is a winter camping necessity. Junior Four Point veteran Katie Stack is ready to stoke the fire.

Cooking over the campfire with a tripod is a winter camping necessity. Junior Four Point veteran Katie Stack is ready to stoke the fire.


A Four Point of Order

While there this year, the group reviewed the goals and objectives and had a discussion of what to expect from students on an expedition. This year, we were also thinking about how the pandemic might impact the trip, of course.

Every year I look forward to this trip where we can refresh our skills, learn from each other, and spend quality time with colleagues. This year was very special as we have not had the opportunity to have lots of in-person time with each other due to the pandemic.

Winter Camping Skills Practiced and Topics of Discussion included:

  • Navigating with a map and compass
  • Campsite set-up and organization
  • Leave No Trace principles
  • Planning the ideal winter camping itinerary
  • Setting up tarps and sleeping areas
  • Which hard and soft skills are the most important
  • Medical scenarios and the basics of Wilderness First Aid (all have their WFA credentials)
  • How to balance risk management in the backcountry
  • How to utilize student journals and build in time for reflection

We are looking at ways to make this trip as normal as possible through a testing strategy prior to departure so that in the woods the groups enjoy the typical team building and personal growth experiences that this trip is legendary for.

The group moved to a new campsite for the second night, much as the student groups will do in March. Junior Four Point is a pivotal piece of experiential learning at Gould, and something we take seriously. A lot of planning and care goes into making sure we can provide an exceptional and safe formative experience for everyone.

 

Click the🔍 for more training trip pics!


Want to have a winter camping experience like no other?
Learn more about Gould’s Four Point Program

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