Proctor Academy's Mountain Classroom program, an intrepid group of ten students and two faculty members, spent a week paddling the mighty Mississippi, fighting unseasonably cold temperatures and becoming closer as a group. With a week left until winter break, Sam '19 reflects on the past week together on the water in the text below. Be sure to also check out more photos on Flickr!
Proctor Academy's Mountain Classroom program is off and running on their 46th straight year of the world's most powerful learning experience. The group of ten students and two faculty members will drive across the country in pursuit of adventure and getting to know as many different cultures as possible over the next three months. The bus pulled out of campus on Monday left and the group is now on a canoe trip up the Mississippi River for the rest of this week. Read on to hear Amanda's '19 reflections so far.
Mountain Classroom entered the "final phase" of the term in New York before making their way to Vermont. During final phase students take full responsibility for their community culture and all logistics. Exams were held at a cabin over two miles from the trailhead at the Merck Forest and Farm Center. With academics over, the students headed off on a celebratory backpacking loop on the Long Trail.
The conclusion of wilderness solos meant that it was time to embark on our final academic unit in food systems: small-scale sustainable agriculture. There is no better place than Polyface Farm to start the discussions that this unit warrants. From Virginia we drove to Allentown, PA to challenge ourselves physically by running a 10K. And then it was on to Lake Taghkanic State Park in Upstate NY where we camped while visiting farms in the beautiful Hudson Valley.
Proctor's Mountain Classroom program set our sights on Salina, KS as we departed South Dakota. We visited The Land Institute to learn about their plant breeding programs as a part of our food systems curriculum. From Salina, we drove due east to Green Sulphur Springs, WV where we hiked into the hills for our wilderness solos.
Proctor's Mountain Classroom program turned our focus to Colorado's grasslands as we drove to Chico Basin Ranch to study rotational grazing and ranch management. Our experience was facilitated by Lee Derr, a local bird banding expert and grassland ecologist. The next stop was St Francis, SD, on the Rosebud Reservation. There we spent time with the White Hat family, whose longstanding relationship with Proctor has been a fixture of Mountain Classroom for years.
Proctor math teachers, Kristen Martin and Chris Farrell, joined Mountain Classroom in Salida, CO for a weekend of hiking, soaking in hot springs, seeing downtown, and mountain biking. From Salida we drove southeast to the beautiful Beulah Valley where we were hosted by Linda and David Overlin. The Overlins have a wealth of knowledge on ranching and the surrounding grasslands and are skilled craftspeople. They welcomed us to camp in their backyard while guiding us through projects in their wood and metal shop.
Entering Colorado provided Mountain Classroom with the opportunity to head to over 10,000 feet in pursuit of snow. We made home at Leadville's High Mountain Institute where we rented skis and down pants, among other gear, for going adventuring in the Mosquito Range. Our mission was to enjoy the spring skiing and learn about how adaptable the human body is at elevation and in snow camping conditions. It was a blast!