Honoring the Bears

May 22, 2012

Wow, I can’t believe this is it! My last Glog post EVER! I originally thought I would write about something grand and lofty to commemorate the occasion, but really, who wants to read that? No, instead I would just like to talk about something that is still a grand and noble pursuit, but somewhat less philosophical. This morning at assembly we honored members of the distinguished Polar Bears club of Gould Academy. I don’t know if anyone has Glogged about this before, and if they did, it was probably me, since I think I am the only Glogger in Polar Bears. So just a brief overview:

Two days a week, starting whenever the ice on Songo Pond goes out, a group of brave and hardy students wake up and board a bus, which leaves at 6:00 sharp. If you fail to make it before that time, you are out of luck. Our leader, Mr. Siekman, waits for no one. If you aren’t there, the bus leaves without you. If you miss one, you are out. You can’t come for the rest of the year, and you will not be awarded the special honor at the end of the year. We are driven to some nearby body of water, where we are all expected to fully submerge ourselves once, maybe twice, sometimes even three times. It all depends on the will of Mr. Siekman and sometimes his 7-year-old daughter, Caroline.

For the first few times, we go to Songo Pond, a mere 5-minute drive away. But eventually that gets too easy, and we begin to seek out more extreme experiences (in terms of height, temperature, swimming distance, etc.). Some of the infamous spots are: Deep Hole, Letter S, the Sunday River covered bridge, and Bog Brook (known to be the coldest location, especially with a triple dip). Those who want to make it even more extreme have the opportunity to wake up even earlier to RUN to Polar Bears. Now you might wonder, “Why would you want to do that?” As an occasional running bear, and more recently a “roller bear” (my name for someone who roller skis to Polar Bears), I can tell you that getting up before 5:00 in the morning has its perks. You are already warm when it comes time to jump into the water, and if you are like me and stress about getting exercise every day, you don’t have to worry, because by 6:30 you’ve already done it. And then there is just the epic feeling of having run 8 miles and jumped into ice cold water before breakfast.

4-year bears and our ice tower

I should mention that Polar Bears is completely voluntary, that anyone is free to duck out at any time, just miss one and you never have to do it again! But true Polar Bears are a special brand of people. They don’t quit just because they don’t want to wake up one morning. If you ask just about any Polar Bear why they stick with it, you will probably not get a straight answer. For most people, it seems to be a sort of motivation that comes from a mixture of internal and external sources. No one but yourself can make you want to get up at sunrise and take the plunge. But it’s the camaraderie of the group that keeps you going.

The goal is to make it through the season without missing a single one. And then the ultimate goal is to make it through 4 years without missing one. These are the special people called 4-year Polar Bears, of which I am one. After 4 years of this masochistic morning routine, each 4-year Polar Bear gets an award befitting our hard work and commitment: a giant ice block! This morning was the assembly where the polar bears who made it all the way through the year, and through 4 years, are honored. The 8 4-year seniors received our ice blocks, as you can see in the photo above. As for the younger underclass-bears, all I can say is, you have a lot of pain and suffering ahead of you, but it’s worth it!

And that concludes my final Glog of my high school career. It has been a pleasure to write for you this year, and I hope you have enjoyed reading everything I had to say. As they say in The Sound of Music, “So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen goodbye!”

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One Response

  1. Avatar Spidermom says:

    Br-r-r-r-r! I shiver to contemplate it. As one who has to ooze in even on hot summer days, I am in awe of you and your compatriots and your four-year commitment.

    Bravo! You earned your ice blocks.

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