Why We Hike - Wilderness Orientation

Posted by Scott Allenby


Early Orientation for preseason athletes and Transition Days for new international students at Proctor are nearing completion. As we prepare for the arrival of all new students and their families tomorrow, we revisit Friday’s welcome of new students for Early Orientation. The perfect mix of nervousness and excitement accompanying the start of the year was present, and we had an opportunity to explain why every new student starts his or her experience at Proctor hiking and camping for five days in the White Mountains learning the value of experiential learning.

Proctor Academy Registration Day 2014

Wilderness Orientation director, Kayden Will, shared some great thoughts with families that apply to anyone starting a new endeavor. While Proctor provides students a packing list for Wilderness Orientation, Kayden reminded us to pack a few extra things in our packs that aren’t on that list:

Pack Your Commitment

This trip will be a challenge as we spend five days and four nights hiking and camping in the White Mountains. For some it will be intimidating, but once the group spends time together, we realize how to depend on each other. When we commit as a group to making the best of a shared experience, we are amazed at what can happen, and that does not just apply to camping trips in the mountains!

Proctor Academy Registration Day 1

Pack Your Sense of Humor 

Unfortunate events are likely to happen in our lives. How we approach these events determines their impact on us. If that rain storm comes (as it did last night) and soaks our gear, our hair is standing straight up after three days of no showering, or we realize we may not smell as fresh on Day 3 as we did when we left, just laugh at yourself and know that we are all in this together - a smelly, dissheveled, messy-haired group loving life! 

Wilderness Orientation Group 1

Pack an Open Mind 

We all form judgements prior to having an experience, especially with something as new as Wilderness Orientation. We think about the worst case scenarios, how miserable we will be in the woods for five days, and how we are sure we aren’t going to have any friends in our group. However, Kayden reminds us to be sure we pack an open mind alongside our camping gear. An open mind allows our perspective to evolve; our preconceived notion of what something is to shift. It is amazing what an open mind can do to premature judgements.

Proctor Academy Registration Day 4

Leave Technology Behind 

This may be one of the toughest aspects of Wilderness Orientation for students and faculty. We live in a world that is constantly connected. We check our email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram whenever we have a minute to spare. But on Orientation this distraction is removed. While it may be painful for students (and parents to not hear from their son or daughter for five days), very quickly everyone realizes just how reliant we are on technology to fill our days. Maybe, just maybe, this trip will remind us that it is ok, and even good, to spend some time away from technology!

Wilderness Orientation at Proctor 1

After completing the packing list, Kayden then reminded us that we may actually bring back a few things that we did not originally pack:


Wilderness Orientation is not easy. It is mentally and physically challenging, but it is also an opportunity to build confidence in ourselves. When we complete something difficult, we gain confidence in ourselves. Wilderness Orientation does just this for each of us.

Proctor Academy Wilderness Orientation

Connections to People and Place

Spending four nights and five days alongside seven other students and two faculty members allows us to form wholly unique relationships. We connect to our new teachers, classmates, dormmates, and teammates. We connect to nature and this place we will call home. We return to campus with far more than we left, and that is powerful.

Proctor Academy Elbow Pond

Appreciation for What We Have

We are all thankful for what we have, but we never truly appreciate what we have until it is gone. A hot shower, a refrigerator full of food and a mattress to sleep on are often taken for granted, however, after five days sleeping on the ground and living out of a pack we are quickly reminded just how much we have to be thankful for!

Proctor Academy Wilderness Orientation

For the 80 students preparing for Wilderness Orientation over the next two days, do not forget to follow Kayden’s advice and pack your bag with commitment, a sense of humor, and an open mind while leaving your technology behind. For those 40 students returning from Early Orientation today, remember to revisit Kayden’s words to see if they prove true in your life. Did you return to campus with more confidence, connections, and an appreciation for what you have?


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