The sound of 64 ninth graders climbing a mountainside--from a distance--is like that of an approaching circus. I sprint ahead of the throng for photographic purposes and wait as they approach. Shrieks and laughter transmit well ahead of distinguishable words, but there's no doubt that an energized crowd is ascending. They come into view.
Sophomores and juniors are taking PSATs. Seniors are finalizing apps and essays. Ninth graders are hiking and bonding.
Perhaps it started twenty minutes ago, when Swayz convened the class to share important sentiments: students hiking to the cabin is a tradition; knowing and loving our woodlands is key to the Proctor experience; we want students to enjoy this magnificent, unique asset!
But this started long ago. In the 1940s, a time when the school was struggling financially, student members of the Cabin Club constructed a log cabin a half-mile up the south slope of Ragged Mountain, next to dependable Mitchell Brook.
The notion of "the Cabin" has since been a part of our vocabulary. When the original structure deteriorated, we built a more efficient structure on the same site in 1991. This was our destination today.
For most ninth graders, this is an introduction to a Proctor treasure. While they enjoy cocoa, cookies and a sweet-scented campfire, Swayz invites them to utilize this special resource... instructing them to pursue camping privileges for weekend overnights.
What amuses me is this: Proctor is such an egalitarian community--one that blends "classes" of students in academic courses, dormitories, advisory groups, teams and dining situations, that this is the one time that the ninth grade may see itself as itself. Personally, I think that this is terrific. I like the fact that we blend students, and I like that we let them experience themselves as a class early in their Proctor experience. They'll do it again, perhaps, in four years, on a boat on Lake Winnipesauke, immediately before they graduate.
From now on, until then, they'll be a part of the greater community of Proctor. Now, it's time to head back to campus.
On return, some of us detour two hundred feet west of the main trail to Mud Pond, to the site of a new Adirondack lean-to under construction for future camping. We can only hope that this year's ninth graders will enjoy it!
It will be fun to contrast photos with these kids in four years! (I know; I've been doing it.)