8th Grade Trip Builds Confidence and Persistence
Alison Mohrbacher, Middle School Faculty

By Alison Mohrbacher, Middle School Faculty

“So why do we do it?
What good is it?
Does it teach you anything?
Like determination? Invention? Improvisation?
Foresight? Hindsight?
Art? Music? Religion?
Strength or patience or accuracy or quickness or tolerance or
which wood will burn and how long is a day and how far is a mile
and how delicious is water and smokey green pea soup?
And how to rely
on your

—Terry and Renny Russell, On the Loose

Once again, I had the joy of joining the eighth-grade class on their Outward Bound experiential leadership trip in Mazama, WA. The students rotated through a schedule of hiking, climbing, rappelling and service.

This group of eighth graders jumped into the trip full force and embraced the opportunity as a chance to push themselves as campers, climbers, hikers, community members, friends and leaders. Even on the bus, they were looking for the beauty of the trip as their oohs, ahs and wows exploded in response to the changing scenery. This group, in particular, demonstrated a respect and value for the natural environment that helped me slow down and appreciate the simple beauties too. As one student reflected, “If I had the choice, I would go all the way back to camp just to see the stars again.” I wish I could go back, too.

For me, the most powerful element of the trip was seeing the students surprise themselves with their own strength and perseverance. The joy that spilled out of their mouths when they reached the top of their routes on a climb, the pride they named after trusting themselves on rappel, the patience they offered to their classmates as belayers, the compassion and curiosity they shared with the community members they met through service, and especially the laughter that rang throughout camp during evening games and mealtimes are the results of this trip that I wish I could bottle up and share with each community member who didn’t get to join us. To see this class on this trip was a privilege and humbling reminder of how lucky I am to work with such amazing students and at a school that values the power of these experiences.

We have found a beautiful partnership with Outward Bound; an organization whose mission, vision and values dovetail with the Forest Ridge ethos in a unique and powerful way. Outward Bound’s mission to “… change lives through challenge and discovery,” their vision for “a more resilient and compassionate world, with more resilient and compassionate citizens,” and their named values of “compassion, integrity, excellence, inclusion and diversity” reinforce Forest Ridge’s own mission to “educate young women to think critically, embrace challenges, model resilience, confront injustice, seek equality and lead globally in the pioneering spirit of our foundress.”

This year, the complimentary values provided another powerful lens for exploring the school-wide themes of integrity, resilience and engagement. The eighth-grade class should all be proud of the way they pushed themselves in each of these qualities over the course of the week. I am excited to spend the rest of the year with them as they apply these same qualities to classroom learning.

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