Early Monday morning, September 9th, 96 Upper School students and 17 teachers loaded into two coach buses and several cars and headed north to YMCA Camp Chingachgook on Lake George for three days of community building. Not only was it the first time (in recent memory) that the trip included all students in the Upper School, it was moved to the beginning of the school year to serve as a way for students and teachers to build trust and get to know each other. Upper School Head Jonathan Chein said, “You can’t have learning without trust, and spending time interacting away from school is a tremendous way to build trust across a community.”
UE and MS did many of the same activities, such as team-building games and hikes. Many of the activities, such as meals, campfires, S’mores and morning polar bear swims, were cross grade. UE students tackled the climbing tower, canoed in 10-person canoes, played team trivia and let loose at an impromptu dance party. MS students did some low-ropes initiatives, held a town-hall style environmental debate and paddled canoes on the lake.
Teachers were also learners and did an activity-based team-building session. They reflected about communication and teamwork. As a final challenge, Ms. Clark and Ms. Rathus each circumnavigated a “slack-line,” a 30-foot loop of nylon strapping, held taut and off the ground by other teachers!
“Did students learn any math or grammar while away? “Probably not,” Mr. Chein suggested, “but the investment in community will pay tremendous dividends throughout the year.”