Camping Trip to George Washington National Forest

by David McMyne

On Friday, March 3rd, I took a group of students all the way down to the George Washington National forest right across from Shenandoah National park for a weekend camping trip. After a long drive south, we hiked three miles up a mountain on a trail that was at times extremely steep. Once we got to the top, we set up camp. The stars were breathtaking and several of us did not pitch a tent so that we could gaze upon them as we fell asleep. We woke up after a cold first night and ate breakfast and soon after discovered that the Northeast side of the mountain was much warmer and blocked the wind, so we moved camp. Then the guys explored the mountainside and the river, played cards by the fire or worked on their sleeping arrangements for the coming night. After a glorious sunset, the boys sang songs and cooked dinner around the campfire. After dinner, they told stories, sang more songs to the valley below, and went to bed early. The next morning everyone was up before sunrise. James Smith started a fire and we warmed up while watching the sun slowly paint the mountains and valleys around. After cooking breakfast and packing up, we hiked out and attended Mass in Front Royal, VA. After Mass, Peter Gaetano, an alumnus from 2012, and his wife Elizabeth hosted us for a fantastic brunch before the long ride home later that day. The trip was an unforgettable adventure. The Shenandoah mountains and valleys already harken us b

ack and the words of the folk song “O Shenandoah” echo in our minds as we dream of those special places in our hearts. 

Camping Adventure in New Jersey








Over the last weekend in February, dorm father David McMyne took a van of students on a camping adventure. After driving three hours south they arrived on the edge of the one-million-acre Pine Barrens Forest of New Jersey. They sang some songs and hit the hay after hiking four miles to their campsite and setting up in the dark. The next day they woke up early, had breakfast, and then everyone set off to explore the vast and beautiful forest. Some students hiked the trails or wandered around the pitch pine forest covered with sand. Others went to the great cedar swamps that cover hundreds of acres. After a full day of hiking and exploring in gorgeous weather, they all came back to get ready for the impending thunderstorm. After battening down the hatches and making sure they were ready for the storm, they sang songs till it finally hit with a giant role of thunder. Quickly getting into their shelters, they settled down to wait out the storm. Some boys were singing, others playing cards, talking, reading, or sleeping. The storm with all its power and rain did not at all dampen the spirits of the campers; quite the opposite. After the storm, the students cooked dinner and shared stories of the day before heading to bed. The trip was a great success, teaching the budding woodsmen to appreciate and enjoy whatever nature might offer whether that be a beautiful sunny day or a powerful thunderstorm. Thank you, Mr. McMyne for organizing the trip!

Freshmen Camping Trip


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”