A Camping Trip with the Freshmen
by Mr. McMyne.
On Monday October 17th, Mr. John Prezzia and I embarked on a week-long excursion deep into the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York with the freshman class. After a five-hour drive and a two-hour hike in the dark lugging a canoe and two coolers, we arrived at our campsite where we would spend the next week relaxing, exploring, and learning different outdoor skills; or – as the old outdoorsman Nessmuk put it – smoothing over our typically rough and busy lives.
We brought no water filters and so we had to boil our water before drinking it. Unfortunately, the water still tasted very much like a pond. To remedy this, I taught Kevin Howerton how to build a primitive water filtration system. He constructed one (as you can see in one of the pictures) and it made our drinking water taste much better.
During the week I challenged any of the freshmen to a game of extended hide and seek. The rules were simple: the one hiding could go anywhere in the vast wilderness and was allotted a hiding time of one hour. Then I was allowed to seek him for three hours. James Smith took up the challenge but it only took me twenty-five minutes to find him hiding across the lake in the canoe. Better luck next time, James.
Unfortunately, the weather took a turn for the worse in the final few days of the trip. We experienced some rain and even snow! The rain was particularly heavy one evening and the lean-to over Christian Luther and Colby Robinson filled with water and collapsed, leaving them cold and wet. As my friends will tell you, I am a very deep sleeper under pretty much any condition so their cries of distress failed to wake me. It was a good thing that Mr. Prezzia was there to take care of them, giving them dry clothes and his sleeping bag.
The hike and canoe ride out were beautiful. It was snowing heavily but the views were incredible with the snow on water and tree, and the deep, beckoning silence over the land.
After it was over, I asked Leo Wagner how he liked the experience and he said: “Sir, I learned this week that the human body can handle a lot more than I previously thought!” I laughed and replied that this was supposed to be an easy week in the woods, learning about wilderness living. But Leo’s words made me reflect on an important truth when it comes to this world: God gives us what we need but not always what we want. We need to train ourselves instead always to want what He gives. Living in the silence and peace of the woods for a week can help do that.
We do not go to the green woods and crystal streams to rough it. We go to smooth it.
~George Washington Sears “Nessmuk”