September 12, 2010
Yesterday, we took our first year students on an all-day retreat. We spent the entire day outside. The students loved the high ropes course, where we challenged ourselves by climbing up high into the trees and walking on wires high above the ground. The low ropes course involved crazy teamwork challenges like trying to get a group of twelve people, half of whom are blindfolded, balancing on a tiny platform. But more importantly, the students got to spend time meeting faculty and staff in a setting that’s far more informal than a classroom.
We ate meals together, sitting outside on the grass, and had long discussions about where our food came from. (Our first year students read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle over the summer.) Several faculty members brought produce from their own gardens, including some crazy-looking heirloom vegetables. Faculty and students played soccer together and searched together for the soccer ball together every time into the woods. At least two students brought their dogs, who were pet by dozens of hands. I taught countless first year students how to play bocce.
Because our college focuses on environmental science, faculty had lots to say about the beautiful natural area where we spent the day. In small groups, students walked to the pond, the orchard, the pine forest, the rock cliffs, and the sinkhole, where professors could talk about some of their specialties. It was a long day, filled with activity, and ended with a fire, and the traditional cooking of S’Mores. It was a day filled with positive energy, the idealistic young students talking excitedly to professors who have worked in the field since before some of these students were born.
Posted by jo(e)