Thank you so much for raising such amazing young people. This retreat was such a fantastic experience and a success, despite adventures like Mother Nature's unexpected plans. At the end of this letter is a link to student reflections and photos that we hope you will enjoy!
In this retreat, students built their own little city in the Cleveland National Forest. They cooked for themselves, cleaned for themselves, set up their tents, explored, hiked, worked with the park rangers, learned about opportunities with the forestry service, brainstormed and planned for their art project, and learned a lot about themselves, the way they work with others, and what they are like both as individuals and as a class community. The new students were awesome and jumped into the mix with such fearlessness. Our HTH students who went to the Middle School were kind, loving, and welcoming. We could not tell who was who after just a few hours.
Each student has their own individual experience. Each student had their own challenges that they faced during our time in the woods, and their own unique ways of solving the problems that they faced. We encourage you to talk to your student about both the fun memories, and the challenging ones, and how they figured out how to navigate all the moments that they experienced.
During our last campfire, we told the students that we hope they understand some of the messages that we are trying to send them by planning a camping trip so early in their high school experience. Perhaps these are lessons that you can continue to unpack at home:
1. The difficulties that the students faced were by design (except for the storm). We want them to learn how to work independently, as well as collaboratively.
2. We want students to address each challenge and live each moment with our values of grit, empathy, integrity, respect, responsibility, and bravery.
3. They have begun their journey to independence and they'll gain more and more of it with each year. We want to encourage students to happen to life, instead of just letting life happen to them.
4. There is so much to discover in ourselves and in each other without technology in our hands. Technology is wonderful, but so is our time away from it discovering ourselves.
5. This first project was them designing, building, living in, and then cleaning up their own little city. They accomplished so much during this retreat, and they should be so, so proud!!!
Enjoy some photos and student reflections here:
Love & Gratitude,
9th Grade Teachers Carol Cabrera, Kurt Schwartz, Alden Walters, Jen Howard, Mike Amarillas, Charley Jacob, & Katelin Swan