As Proctor Academy’s Mountain Classroom program returns to New Hampshire after a cross country learning adventure, students reflect on their final student-run expedition of the term. We also share a shout out to Mountain Classroom instructors Jeffrey Prado and Jeaneen Shedd for their remarkable leadership, skill, and commitment to the program as they both embark on new adventures next year!
Hap ‘24 | The Door Lottery
Mountain Classroom is a culmination of a bunch of small things that add up to make an entertaining day. The largest culmination of these small things came in the form of Final Expedition: a four-day backpack in West Virginia on our own, while our instructors follow far enough away to not have to listen to us-this is so we learn how to operate on our own. The main additions to the culmination didn’t come until day two of the backpacking trip when we were suddenly reminded of why Jeffrey said the tent we had was a bit of a fixer upper. This fixer upper began with Jeffrey reminding us that he had a four person tent that needed some light repairs. After said light repairs to the rain fly were completed we celebrated at how smooth the zipper was. Three weeks later on Final Expedition, that previously buttery smooth tent zipper had developed an attitude. We reached a point where the zipper zipped without zipping anything, like open air housing. At this point we figured that the zipper would work 1 out of 10 tries, which was significantly worse than the previously 1 out of 3 times. We quickly discovered shutting the door was like entering a lottery.
After eventually winning the lottery we were off to bed for another long day. After covering our miles we found a nice campsite near the river. We got to cooking dinner and then eating said cooked food. After eating we gathered around the campfire to relax after our biggest day of the expedition when we suddenly heard a bang. The bang in question was a football sized rock that had exploded from the heat. Luckily the only scratch dealt by the rock was in our minds on making sure the fire stays away from the edges of the fire ring. Other than this and the pesky tent our final expedition was a great success - we only lost the trail twice! Final Expedition is a prime example of how Mountain Classroom has been able to turn a group of house dwellers into a group capable of functioning by ourselves in the outdoors. As a group we plan out our days, find campsites, and figure out how to eat spaghetti with a spoon.
Enrico ‘24 | Back in New Hampshire
From dry mesas filled with kangaroo mice to sandy gulches, I have been living where there has not been any greenery. For myself, I became confused with what was a totally new landscape for me. I believed that the west was all prairies with a couple desert spots, but there were so many valleys, cliffs, and mountains. My brother, Dante, had been on the previous Mountain Classroom trip. He mentioned Walmart trips and cowboys but never had he told me what I would see.
There would be times where I could only see red rock for miles. Other times I would be surrounded by one hundred foot tall cliffs on all sides. It was all so interesting to see. Every new place the class visited had beautiful views of geology formed from millions of years. These views could only be seen in the west. The lack of trees allowed us to navigate the land with ease. However, the nights were so much colder.
When our group began traveling farther east, the deserts disappeared and the prairies and open plains made way. Animals that I believed to be extinct such as prairie dogs and bison littered the land at the National Parks. Elsewhere was all flat farmland.
Soon the prairies and plains disappeared. Deciduous forests began to show on the mountains and then surrounding our campsites, blocking the view. Then, before I knew it, I was back in New England. Right now, I am surprised that the term has gone by so fast. I feel as if we had started not too long ago. This off-campus classroom was definitely a fun time for me.
- Mountain Classroom
- Off-Campus Program