Snow Falling on Juniors

February 26, 2013

OVERHEARD ON THE BASKETBALL COURT: (By a faculty hoopster)- “I think the students are beating us because they are scoring baskets.  And we aren’t.”

Hi everyone out there in Glog City! I should start by telling you that this will be my last GLOG for awhile. I’m taking a break to go do what all teachers like to do at winter term’s end, when the work is complete and the grades are posted:

I’m going to sleep in a snowbank.

Spirit of Full Disclosure: My family (the extended one, not Andee and our kids) already thinks that I’m a lunatic for doing this, and for doing it over and over. My brother and his family are, at this very moment, wearing nothing but bathing suits and smiles.  They are in Florida wondering what special kind of sci-fi worm has crawled into my skull and wrapped around my cerebral cortex, causing me to like winter camping. And I tell them, it’s quite simple really.

I have no idea why.

Maybe it comes down to focus.  I have none. No, really, instead of the potential for discomfort I just focus on the things that you can’t possibly get unless you head into the snowy woods for a week: Really dirty socks and a mean sunglasses tan.

No, wait!  Seriously, there are wonderful things about this most emblematic rite of passage for Gould Academy Juniors and the teachers crazy enough to accompany them throughout the journey. I could write all day about being tired and comfort-zone-adjustment, but I think I’ll just write a top ten list of the things I love about Junior Point.  So here goes:

  1. I love the quiet of an uninhabited winter setting first thing in the morning. the peace all around you is indescribably beautiful.
  2. I hike, in all seasons, for the view.  The view from the top of an exposed winter peak is especially delicious.
  3. I happen to think “systems” for dealing with things are cool.  Everything about extended winter expedition comes down to systems.  Where is my headlamp? How small can I pack down my sleeping bag?
  4. Simple pleasures.  There is nothing quite like a hot water bottle in your sleeping bag after a long day. Just make sure the top is on tight, or….
  5. Call me crazy, or a Luddite (Google it), but I like my conversations to be unencumbered by technology. Nine days without cellphones or texting= happy Doug.
  6. Have you ever eaten a bagel fried in a lake of butter? (Kids- don’t try this at home!!) Only in the woods is this a good thing.
  7. I am a teacher.  I teach things.  Sometimes, the lesson gets lost on my students- hey, it happens.  But not in the winter woods. Students are SOOOO ATTENTIVE when they are worried about getting eaten by a bear, let me tell you! (Moms, stop your worrying about this right now. I did some extensive research (asked the other junior Point leaders) and determined that there are NO AWAKE BEARS in the woods of Maine in the winter. Your kids might see an excited chipmunk, but not much else.)
  8. Additionally as a teacher, there is nothing cooler than watching young people learn how to take control of their own destiny.  By day five, Juniors in high school are cooking their own food, dividing up their own chores, and plotting their own courses using equipment as low-tech as a map and compass. No GPS!!
  9. I get sleep. For a boarding school career person, this is worth more than gold. I average about TEN hours of sleep a night on Junior point. I’m giggling with anticipation as I type this part! TEN HOURS! In a SINGLE NIGHT!!
  10. “Ten feet tall and bulletproof.” Mr. Hedden likes to describe the swagger that juniors acquire on their return from this trip.  they just look radiant in their new-found confidence. They go out into the world, post-Junior Point, armed with the numero-uno-top-dog-best-ever follow up to the phrase “Oh, so YOU think the SATs are HARD?  well let me tell YOU….”

Parents of Juniors, and Juniors themselves, take note that nowhere in this GLOG do I use the words survival, endure, frozen,or trail of tears.  They are not the point of Junior Point. Discovering something about yourself, and how you work with others through challenges, is the very essence of Junior Point.  I leave you with a few photos of Junior Points past. Juniors, just remember: Ten feet tall, and bulletproof!

A band of brothers in primaloft. Junior Point, 2005.

Miles Spadone ’06 showing how it’s done. With POSITIVITY!

Happy girls (Kate Roberti, ’09  and Brittany Riley, ’09)  having a happy breakfast. Junior Point 2008.

A view of Goose Eye that you just can’t get from a car or a ski trail. Junior Point 2008.

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