The Last Proctor Student in the Woods
Oliver Munsill, ’08, is from Wilmington, VT. Oliver likes
playing guitar, hanging around the Wise Center,
kayaking in the spring, and fly fishing. Oliver is a
member of the winter Journalism class.
Most Proctor students do not seem to be taking advantage of the woods, the trails, the cabin, the backwoods ponds, or the sunrise viewed from the Bulkhead. George Emeny and Dave Pilla take a look into the past.
Throughout the years, Proctor Academy has been viewed as an “outdoors oriented” school, offering a five-day wilderness orientation hike and adventure programs such as Mountain Classroom and Ocean Classroom. Proctor’s 2500 acre woodlot provides students with ample camping, hiking, and exploring opportunities. In the past, students used the woods and trails frequently, but now students’ attention is diverted from the woods by electronic distractions.
George Emeny, a member of Proctor’s mathematics department and Farm House dorm parent, first came to Proctor in 1964. He remembers the old days when students really used the woods. He recalls the ski hill behind MLS dorm and the making of “Wilson’s Wonder,” a trail from the top of Ragged Mountain coming back down to Proctor that took five years to cut. When the Blackwater ski hill became popular, there was no road so students would have to ski there on a trail. Every weekend it seemed, there would be student hiking and camping trips to the cabin. The trails were well known by all. Now, over fourty years later, it would be rare to find a student on campus that considered themselves very familiar with the trails. In the seventies, it became increasingly popular for students to build huts out of sticks and materials that were scavenged from the maintenance department. Proctor kids back then had a great time in the woods.
Dave Pilla, the face of Proctor’s woodlands programs, has been here for twenty-nine years. In his time here, he has noticed students’ lack of time and busy schedules. He agrees that distractions are a big issue. He wants to see kids in the outdoors, but instead “the exploration is taking place on the internet.” He still sees kids interested in the woods, nature, and having what he calls “authentic experiences” just as he did throughout his twenty-nine years here. Pilla is certain that if we were free of technological distractions and busy schedules, more kids would be enjoying what the natural world has to offer.
The present generation of Proctor students is “stuck” in the middle of a world of technology. We are wrought with distractions. Facebook, iPods, and Xbox can cast a dark shadow over our wondering and adventuring sides, keeping us from the 2500 acres of unexplored woods that lie to the north under Ragged Mountain’s peak. There are other ways to have fun. Capitalize on Proctor’s great wilderness setting. Sleep beneath the stars on the edge of the Bulkhead or catch a glimpse of the area’s wildlife. Get out there.