Education Under the Greenwood Tree

greenwoodtreepost1We began our school year at Gregory the Great Academy with an expedition into the Pennsylvania wilderness, to give our students the opportunity to bind together as a community in the work of rugged woodland life. Several of our dormfathers are trained and skilled outdoorsmen, and they planned our wilderness adventure carefully.

The original plan was to lead the boys on a stretch of the Appalachian Trail, but it was un-expectedly closed with the government shutdown, which caused us to alter our courses. The alternative programs organized by Mr. Andrew Szemborski were no less exciting, however. The school was divided into two groups, one camped and cleared paths at Promised Land State Park while the other blazed a path, cleared a campsite, and began building a log cabin on the property of a local farmer, Mr. Russell Bateman, whose son attended St. Gregory’s. The groups switched locations before concluding their ten-day outdoor experience together at the Bateman property.

The site they prepared together at this property is extraordinary. Under the direction of Mr. Nicholas Dalimata, the boys cleared a large section of beautifully picturesque woods, erected stone cooking stoves and firewood piles, and broke out a well-organized camp. Mr. Andrew Wilson Smith guided them in applying the geometric principles they read about in their correspondence text on mathematics, String, Straight Edge and Shadow, to measure out true lines and right angles for a log cabin. Before long, the boys were unearthing large stones, placing them in the fine trenches they had dug, and laying a solid flagstone floor and foundation. The project is an ongoing one, and one that the boys look forward to continuing over the course of the year.

On their last night in the woods, families and friends gathered with the campers for a rustic dinner of chicken legs and rice, and shook the dark treetops with laughter at skits and with songs round a fire. One of the staples of education at Gregory the Great is Howard Pyle’s The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. This adventure perhaps gave the boys a closer experience of life under the greenwood tree than any group of students before them.


This article was reprinted from our school newsletter “The Minstrel”. To receive our mailings, please use the contact form on this website and provide your name and address in the message section.