A View from the Top: The OSP Fall Hiking Trip

When opportunity knocks on my door, I sometimes don’t know enough to answer. This time the chance I was waiting for was up for grabs — to go on an Older Student Program (OSP) 3-day backpacking trip in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, one of the most rugged landscapes in the nation. I was happy to have this opportunity because my daughter is going into the OSP next year and I wanted to see first-hand why this hiking program is such a success. As a 10-year-old a couple summers ago, she went on a similar trip that TCS sponsored and had a great time. Her experience was mostly a mystery to me because she is the silent type and doesn’t share many stories. In spite of that, her smile said it all. It was a blast — she made new friends, challenged herself, and fell in love with the mountains. Now it was my turn!

Taking a moment at the hut: Back, l-r: OSP Students, Dave S., dir. of finance & operations, Sally K., OSP head teacher, and the author

The values and philosophy of TCS were lived and breathed on the trail. It was evident in the way the teachers, Katy and Sally, prepared the children for the journey, as everyone was well equipped with the gear needed for unpredictable mountain weather, like the rain, hail, snow and high winds we encountered (unlike another 8th grade school group that was at the hut with us but notably ill-equipped for the weather — with cotton socks, shirts and sweats and minimal rain and cold weather gear). TCS kids also learned the importance of hiking smart — taking plenty of breaks and eating and drinking frequently. The children had such a joyful attitude about the adventure (lots of singing and joke telling) and, when anyone was having difficulty, someone was by their side with words of encouragement. Some second-year students shared difficult moments of their first hike and noted the backpacking experience had gotten easier the second time around.

Divided into two groups, the composition of each hiking group changed for each day, giving the children an opportunity to hike with everyone. I admired how everyone socialized with each other on the trail and during the unstructured time in the hut. Games of UNO and Apple to Apples ballooned from two players to eight players. At the nightly class meeting, each person was able to share his or her thoughts on good and challenging experiences. Each child felt comfortable with themselves and with the group to share with each other. The respect was reciprocated by the group.

The backpacking trip was designed, in part, for team building. It seemed that the class was already humming as a tight unit at the start of the trip. At the end, the hum resonated at a higher frequency and the values instilled at an early age at TCS culminated into charming, hard working, and caring young adults.
– Andrea K., TCS Parent