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SnaPShot of the Week

Finding Courage Backpacking the Collegiate Peaks

In an age of smartphones and sedentary living, reconnecting with the outdoors can be therapeutic. Not only is it a great way to get out and exercise, but it’s also a way for students to manage their stress and anxiety. Being connected with nature has spiritual benefits that transcend beyond the walls of the School. 

The 8th Grade Class Trip has been refined over the decades but still stands as one of the most lasting experiences students point to during their time at Presbyterian School. At the beginning of the school year, 8th grade students spent six days and five nights in the Collegiate Peaks of Colorado. While there, bonds were strengthened, new ones were created, and students worshiped and grew closer to God amidst His incredible creation.

“This trip helps students identify their unique characteristics and appreciate their similarities” shared Director of Athletics, Alvaro Baltodano. “It's crucial to recognize that we're all equal in the eyes of God, despite our differences. We all face challenges at some point in our lives, and acknowledging that we have God to lean on for support is comforting. This experience enables students to connect with one another and grow in their faith.”

PS used Noah’s Ark, a nationally recognized outfitter program, to guide students on the river and into the backcountry. “The most fun part of the trip was most definitely white water rafting.” shared 8th grade student, Gwendolyn Knight. “It was a complete adrenaline rush, and I loved singing with my friends on the boat. A word of advice—make sure your jacket isn’t out in the open when you start, because mine was. And then it hailed/rained while we were on the river, and I don’t think I’ve ever been that cold in my life.”

Equipped with a pack on their back, and their classmates next to them, this trip aimed to promote the theme of courage; courage through the experience, gratitude for all the bounty God had already given, and persevering through the gift of challenge by which they could stretch and grow by rising to the occasion. 

"The trip removed all of the common things that hinder us from realizing God's power of creation" added Middle School Ethics teacher, James Menephee. "All distractions were gone and it leaves you with a recognition of God's glory and presence."

“My favorite memory of the trip is from the first day of hiking.” said 8th grade student, Mark Carbajal. “We had spent all day hiking; it was hot, the packs were heavy, and I was starving! When we finally arrived at our campsite, it was nice to finally relax and take in the scenery.”

After two nights at base camp acclimating to the altitude, the group spent three days and two nights on the trail. We then put a final exclamation point on the experience with a night at Silvercliff Lodge for a hot meal, a hot shower, and time to reflect on the experience. 

“We hiked a few miles into the backcountry, set up tents, and then sat around to share our stories around the campfire. I noticed something extraordinary as I watched the boys interact. The kids went out of their way to include each other in the conversation, making physical and emotional space to ensure everyone felt a part of the group. At that moment, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride.” shared Head of Middle School, Brandon Walker.  “So I sat in that emotion. Why was I feeling pride? The reason is that I've spent a significant amount of time with these students and had the privilege of watching them grow.”

8th grader, Kaleb Golden shared his perspective as well. "I'm incredibly grateful that I got to go on this trip and experience the things I did. I would also like to recognize the group members I had in my group, as some of them are peers I wouldn't normally talk to on a regular basis. It was nice being able to create those bounds and share with each other what we had in common."

Although comfort levels with nature might have varied going into the experience, what awaited them on the other side was a truly memorable adventure that was the perfect way to launch a memorable year.

As parting words of advice, 8th grader Adelyn Goerig shared these thoughts, "to all you students who will be doing this next year, I want to say to get excited! Even through no showering, sleeping in Yurts, and cold nights on the trail, it is so amazing. I bonded and got to know girls who I didn't know before, and it allowed me to get closer to God through nature."


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