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The Journey: Orientation Matters More

Brian Thomas

Today is the first day that students who are on Proctor’s Wilderness Early Orientation get to come to campus and then turn around and go out into the woods. It’s a soft landing because many of the groups, if not all, will be picking a spot on the Proctor Woodlands to begin their time getting ready. Most, but not all, of the other groups head off to the White Mountains on the next day. One or two will hike the vast extent of the Proctor Woodlands. 

Proctor Academy Wilderness Orientation

What’s exciting is that the students bring considerable life and excitement to our work of planning and thinking about expectation setting once they are in our care. Today, it becomes more real. Next week, all new students are back for regular Wilderness Orientation and five days later, on September 10, every student is back.

Proctor Academy Wilderness Orientation

The various starts do have the adults logistically thinking through every ounce and nuance of what a beginning means. Proctor takes all of that thinking to a whole new level because adults and all staff are involved in ensuring an effective and safe way to set our most valuable asset into motion – the Proctor Culture.

Proctor Academy Wilderness Orientation

Two Early Wilderness Orientation leaders, Jane ‘25 and Violet ‘24, stopped by my office as I sat down to think about this part of the journey and both underscored the sentiment that so many current and past Proctor students have said over the past 53 years of Wilderness Orientation. Wilderness Orientation is truly one of the most memorable shared experiences that we have. And, Jane said it best: “This [Orientation] is the very best thing that we do. We both could still be working. In fact, I could still be scooping ice cream in Sunapee, but that is not going to move the needle on my funds or my life. Orientation matters more.”

Proctor Academy Wilderness Orientation

To be sure, all of these start days and times do matter more. Because of the way we get to be present with each other before essays are written and problem sets are given. Creating lasting memories and cementing positive relationships are our bread and butter. It is the intentionality of setting high expectations during these opening days that allows us to move into a highly relational way of being from the get go. At every juncture we can harken back to these initial experiences, searing and imprinting many of these moments firmly into our consciousness and our lives forever.


Brian W. Thomas, Proctor Academy Head of School 

Curated Listening:

I know that I have posted Chicago’s iconic song before, but “Beginnings” is where we once again start.

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