Today marked the official end of the fall expedition for students in every grade. We spent the morning cleaning and storing camping equipment; drying and folding tents; and scouring and shelving cooking stoves. Students worked together to help their teachers ensure that the school’s expedition equipment would be ready the next time it was needed. They also spent time reflecting on their personal and group experiences.
At the whole school debrief students described situations and encounters that challenged them in new ways. For some that meant completing their first “real” hike. For others it meant being away from home for the first time; and for some older students it meant carrying a heavy backpack up steep switchbacks. Different students told different stories about what was memorable to them but what they all had in common was a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment participating in, and completing, their respective expeditions to the first peak of Stawamus Chief (Grade 6/7), Panarama Ridge (Grade 8), and Black Tusk (Grade 9). The sense of accomplishment that students feel when they complete an expedition is an important reason the school values this experiential program. However, it is not the only reason.
In recounting his experience of climbing Black Tusk one student remarked, “We went up as classmates but came down as friends.” His comment underscores—what I have come to understand—is the principle reason for challenging students in this way: Expeditions provide opportunities for students to develop relationships with each other in ways that traditional classroom experiences can’t because the group’s physical safety and well-being demands an interdependency on ‘other’ that is not required by students in the classroom. This interdependency is a shared interdependency because students are called on to support each other in ways that promote the physical and emotional well being of the entire group. To be interdependent in this way requires that students be connected—not only to each other—but also to the experience itself. Nobody is left out. Everybody has a role to play. This explains how a group of students ascend a mountain as classmates but come down as friends. It is the best possible outcome and it is my hope for every expedition group.
Expeditions have always played an important role in the life of the school for the reasons I cited above, but it’s important to note that they are made possible because IPS teachers assume responsibility for organizing them. I am thankful to Adrian van Lidth de Jeude for taking on the responsibility of planning this year’s fall expedition. The logistics associated with planning a trip that has half the school camping on top of a mountain are extensive. Every imaginable (weather-dependent) circumstance needs to be considered and Adrian worked throughout the summer (and most of the weekend preceding the trek) to make certain the expedition was safe and fun for everyone. Thank you, Adrian!
Thanks as well goes to Nicole Gibson, Lissy Allan, Robyn Westcott, Birch Nesbitt-Jerman, Caelan Thomson, Mimi Jones, and Juliette Pare. These Grade 9 students helped Adrian buy and package the food that students ate on their trek. Parent volunteers also play an important role in making seasonal expeditions possible. Thanks to Deb Thomson, Karin Heath, John Jerman, and Karen Snyder who helped students achieve their expedition goals. Thanks to Sue Rowan and Marian Snowball who allowed the school to make use of their vans to transport both students and gear. IPS Alumni Karla Everitt (’99), Jason Campbell (’02), and Travis Haggerstone (’03) also participated in this expedition. Their continued and enthusiastic support of their school in this way is greatly appreciated. Nolan Tipton also volunteered on the Grade 8 expedition. Finally, thanks goes to IPS staff Kaija Sproule, Tania Krumpak, Suzanne Allan, Matt Neufeld, and Pam Matthews who worked closely with students to make the expeditions a resounding success.
I’m certain that you have heard a lot of great stories about this year’s fall expedition from your son or daughter, but you can see for yourself how much fun we all had by attending the first school assembly on Thursday, September 30th at 9 am in the Chapel. Students will be presenting their slideshows of their respective expeditions. Please consider attending this assembly. It will be the first one planned by the Class of 2011.
Click here to see a Flickr Slideshow of the Grade 6/7 Expedition.
Head of School