Bonding in the Wilderness

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Bonding in the Wilderness

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The water splashed. The people in the canoes were soaking, panting and exhausted. They’ve been canoeing for two hours and they were finally reaching the shore. As they got out of the boats, they sighed. Now they had to carry two weeks worth of supplies for another couple miles in the wilderness. A tall girl with a thin frame complained as she put a food bin over her shoulders. Her friends sympathized.

Community High School freshmen Ruby Lowenstein, a former Rudolf Steiner student, was on a two week long canoe trip with the rest of her eighth grade class. It was their final year at Rudolf Steiner and the school wanted the class to bond as a family before they went their own ways. The school also believed the students were mature enough by eighth grade.

The work was difficult. Canoeing for hours was one thing. Carrying supplies was another. “I was one of the physically weakest in my group,” said Lowenstein, “so I carried the food bin, which is a big wooden box with all the food supplies we use to cook in it for two weeks. There’s this cloth strap you put around your head and you carry it like [a backpack].” The task was easier said than done. The bin itself was heavy and there was food to last 10 teenagers two weeks. Walking across the wilderness with it was energy draining.

However, there’s no way out. Everyone in the group depended on each other to do their share until the end of the two weeks. “On one side, you are more tired than you’ve ever been,” said Lowenstein. “But then, there’s nothing you can do to not do the work. Even though you feel more tired than you’ve ever been before, you also feel less tired because it’s your only option. It’s like a drive to get to the end.”

Living in the wilderness was another challenge. No one was there to cook except the students. Although the ingredients were supplied, cooking was still difficult. “The person I cooked meals with and I, we burnt everything we cooked,” said Lowenstein. “It was horrible. We’d make cereal and accidentally burn it.”

The trip wasn’t all work and no play. Lowenstein found that having fun was another part of the experience. She remembers cliff jumping clearly. “[The other students] all went cliff jumping and they all landed fine,” she said. “They were like, ‘You’ll be fine.’ So I run up, and I jump down, and literally, I jumped off and bellyflopped on the water. It was a horrible experience.” At the moment, Lowenstein was embarrassed. Her whole group was laughing at her. Eventually, the experience grew into a nice one. It made everyone happy, even Lowenstein.

At the end of the two weeks, after everyone went home, Lowenstein felt strange. Everyone in the group had been working together for a long time and suddenly, they were gone. “We all bonded,” she said. “It’s nice to be working together with these people whom you’ve known for seven years of your life and learn deeper things about them.”


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