One of the most unsettling parts of planning for something is watching the whole thing unravel right in front of you.
By Jaime Pollitte, Director of the Outdoor Education Program
One of the most unsettling parts of planning for something is watching the whole thing unravel right in front of you. After nine years at The White Mountain School, Orientation Trips are, for me, like clockwork – a marvelous routine where contingencies are made, but never needed. This year was different. This year’s Orientation provided the faculty with our own set of initiatives and challenges to be solved. As Hurricane Irene approached, impending doom had me looking at weather sites every hour. At first, we were hopeful that the eye of the storm was set to pass and our departure day was going to be a typical, “blue bird” fall day.
Then, the news arrived.
“White Mountain National Forest Closing: Due to the threat of extreme weather associated with Hurricane Irene, the White Mountain National Forest will be closed, effective 6 p.m., Saturday August 27, 2011, through midnight, Monday, August 29, 2011.”
This applied closure would affect every single one of the hiking, climbing, and canoeing trips. Even though better weather was on the horizon, we had to come up with new plans. After brainstorming many alternatives, we quickly realized that our campus provided some of the best temporary campgrounds around. The decision was made to utilize the campus and Amy and Nate Snow’s, Assistant Head of School, yurt as a launching point for our displaced trips. Students could be seen camping at the pond, on Wedding Hill, Hoods Hill, and even at the gazebo. With a starry sky overhead many groups slept without tarps and the impromptu campsites served us well. The next couple days of Orientation were filled with sunny skies. I love it when a plan comes together…even if that plan is plan #2, 4 or 6!
Fall in the Northeast offers beautiful weather and provides a prime environment for outdoor endeavors. The White Mountain School Orientation Trips are set to a canvas of blue skies, crisp temperatures, and spectacular landscapes. Being active in this picturesque setting is how we want to introduce our new students to our small, tight-knit community. Students get to know each other and our School community, culture and expectations through the challenge of climbing a rock face, spending three days paddling across Lake Umbagog, or on a hike to the top of Mount Washington. One thing is certain – there is an activity that will suit every student, whether they are new to the outdoors or experienced outdoor athletes. The overarching goal of Orientation is simple: provide a glimpse of what a small community can achieve through teamwork/challenge and allow students to enthusiastically begin their year or their next four years at The White Mountain School.