Coming Together by Getting Out!
Sara Konek, 7th Grade Science and Grade Level Lead

One of my favorite parts of the 7th grade experience at Forest Ridge has always been our overnight outdoor experiential trip.  Traditionally, we head off together to a camp in the Olympic National Park during the third week of school--a challenge logistically, to be sure, but worth it. We lace up our hiking boots, pack up our sleeping bags and raincoats (just in case!) and head out for a few days of science learning in the old growth forest. 

Though the trip is focused to support our geology curriculum in science class during the rest of the year, some of the best learning is actually what we learn about ourselves and our community during this time. Getting away from our normal routines and groups at school, surrounded by the beautiful sights and sounds of nature--we are able to relax a little, breathe more deeply and take more time to listen to each other. 

We hike together up Mt. Storm King, and even if hiking isn't everyone's favorite thing, we bond over that shared experience. We connect over the hand that reached out to steady another on a slippery patch of trail, the silly song we sang to help us cover the miles, and the moment of awe at the top when we could see back down to the lake and all the way across to Canada. We end up talking with people we might not have had time with back at school in our normal class schedules, playing games in free time with people we didn't know had the same interests as us or teaching a friendship bracelet pattern to someone else in the quiet before bedtime. By the time we get to our closing campfire, we have made dozens of tiny new connections that help us form a stronger sense of who we are as a community.

It has been several years since we have been able to make this important trip, due to the pandemic, and it has been dearly missed.  I am so grateful to have started our school year once again with this experience, and we are looking forward to a continued year of 7th grade adventures ahead!