Outward Bound

By: Noah Abrams

Even though the Freshmen “Outward Bound” trip was introduced only two years ago, it is already beginning to be altered. This year, the class of 2021 is going on their hiking expedition at the end of the school, rather than the last week of August before school begins. Although this change does not seem very significant, it has caused multiple problems with freshmen orientation and exam scheduling.

The trip starts with the freshmen taking a fifteen minute bus ride to the Outward Bound base camp and participating in team building exercises with their entire grade for about an hour. Next, they load up their backpacks (weighing about forty-five pounds) and go on an hour to two-hour bus ride to the Appalachian Trail. Once there, they break up into about ten groups of twelve students and spend the next five days and four nights hiking and sleeping in the wilderness before returning to Gilman.

When this program was first introduced, it was meant to be used as an orientation for the freshmen, but Dr. John Mojzisek, the orchestrator of the trip, felt that it did not really help new students meet other kids. He said, “Originally we thought it would be a good orientation program, and I think it did help to break the ice a little bit, but it was a little too intense for the first week of school. We thought it was a worthwhile program and maybe that intensity made more sense after you’d been in school for a few months and kind of knew yourself and your peers better.”

The primary reason for changing the date of the trip was that, during the trip, new freshmen spent the majority of the time with a small group of their peers which did not allow them to meet the other hundred-plus students in their grade. According to Dr. Mo, “They only got to meet twelve  people rather than their whole class, so I think the orientation we do now really helps them integrate with the rest of their class.”

Though this modification altered the freshmen schedule, it did not affect their class unity. Mr. Tim Lauer, form chair of the class of 2021, said, “I haven’t noticed any difference in class unity. No, I haven’t seen any significant change.” He also remarked that he believed the program was changed to the end of the year because “the logistics of the beginning of the year for athletes that were involved in preseason and for families trying to finish up vacations was tough.”

Finally, Dr. Mo explained that the program would continue on into their sophomore year. He said, “The other theory is that we can build on it for sophomore year, so there is going to be a sophomore year component when they come back.”