(Almost) A Week in the Woods

by Middle School Teacher Ed Santella

Each year, The Pike School sends its fifth-graders, and their intrepid teachers, to Center Tuftonboro, NH for a week at Camp Merrowvista.  Each year, the departure is a highly anticipated event for the students which generates lots of questions.  “Are the cabins heated?”  “Is there running water in the bathrooms?”  “What do we do if we see a porcupine?”  Normally, the questions asked are easily answered.

This year, however, we were asked a question that we had never been asked before: “Why do we go on this trip?”  We were taken aback.  This was not a question we had been expecting when we asked our classes if anything was on their minds.  The answer to her question is one that is a little bit different for each child.  

img_4382-1For some, it’s their first opportunity to be “on their own” for a few days or climb their first mountain.  Just imagine how empowering it must feel for those students. The unimaginable has become reality! Some students find new ways to shine, whether it is tentatively stepping into a leadership void during team challenges or being the one to figure out and explain how the pieces of Da Vinci’s bridge go together.  In much the same way, there are children who begin to realize that they do not always need to be the ones in charge.  There are always a few who discover they enjoy performing silly songs in front of a group, and they become more willing to take other kinds of risks in the classroom.  A lot of children discover that they have an affinity for nature or survival skills.  Learning to share space with others is a life skill that will serve them well in the future.  Everyone learns to step out of his or her “safe zone” and into her or his “growth zone” when approaching the climbing wall or the high rope elements.

img_4326-1Most importantly, perhaps, they have shared these significant experiences with classmates, peers and friends as a group.  They have learned to see in each other qualities they hadn’t recognized before.  Seeing each other in new and different situations will give them a deeper appreciation of each other’s strengths and capabilities.  It is a watershed moment in their young lives, and they have shared it together.  They will bring this academic touchstone back to Pike with them, and it will make them stronger as individuals and as classmates.  If there is any doubt in your mind as to how significant these accomplishments are to them, just wait until June when they write and create their own movies.  Merrowvista moments always feature prominently in those projects.

For more great Merrowvista pictures, view our album here.

On another note, if you are interested in finding a new way to get your child outdoors, Pike has recently joined the geocaching community.  Two caches have been placed on the Pike nature trail.  You can find information on their whereabouts on geocaching.com or on the geocaching app.  If you find one (or both), please log your find!

The Pike School is an independent, coed, day school for Pre-K through ninth grade in Andover, Massachusetts. Visit pikeschool.org to learn more about Pike – and visit our blog for more thought leadership. To learn more about admission to The Pike School, visit our Admission page


on “(Almost) A Week in the Woods
5 Comments on “(Almost) A Week in the Woods
  1. What an enriching experience for our grade 5 students! This week provides a depth to their education that they will be able to draw from for years to come. As an adult, this post reminds me to apply those principles to everyday life. Many thanks to the grade 5 team for making this opportunity happen for our students.

  2. Nicely done Ed! I know many people will appreciate your remarks as well as your willingness to be part of this annual trek north.

  3. What a fabulous program! This was my daughter’s first significant overnight trip without her family and my husband and I figured this was either going to kill any thought of future sleep-aways or it was going to inspire a whole new level of independence. As it turns out, it was definitely the latter. As a mom, a little sad that she didn’t come home and crawl into my lap, but the unbridled enthusiasm she brought home with her was infectious. Loved the facilities, the outdoor activities, the counselors, the songs, the whole experience. Thanks to all (particularly the Grade 5 teachers) who made this possible – it was an experience she won’t soon forget.

  4. Amazing experience for sure. Appreciate all the thoughts expressed here and totally agree. Thanks to the 5th grade team and everyone else who made this a fantastic trip. So special!

  5. Well said, Ed. The Merrowvista experience comes at the perfect time to urge student growth and bond the students together as a team. I am so appreciative for the chaperones who put their all into making this a spectacular adventure for our students.

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