On March 8th and 9th Conserve School students had the opportunity to experience a taste of the wilderness adventure presented in two of the books they have been reading recently: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer and Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. This experience was truly interdisciplinary as Jeff’s Wilderness Voices class and Michael’s History of Wilderness Exploration class combined to make use of an entire afternoon of class time to explore the Sylvania Wilderness located just north of the Conserve School campus.
Students prepared for their own journey into the wild by layering moisture wicking clothing, filling their water bottles, and packing a mat that they used to sit upon in the snow during discussions. Then groups of 7-8 students and one staff member snowshoed into Sylvania, using a compass and map to navigate, and breaking trail until they arrived at the lake they had set out to find. The going was slow and difficult at times as students sloshed through 5 inches of slush sitting on more than a foot of ice on the lakes, sank up to their waists in deep snow, and clambered up steep banks using the crampons of their snowshoes. Students were responsible for navigating, breaking trail, and for leading discussions once the group arrived at their final destination. To authenticate the experience students were provided with their own piece of bannock which was similar to, but much tastier than, what Ernest Shackleton and his men ate on their Antarctic expedition. I was impressed by the initiative that the students in my group showed in creating a safe and fun trip and in leading thoughtful discussions of the role of risk in human culture and the leadership and decisions made by Shackleton and his men.
I would like to thank Nell and Xander for contributing some of the photographs for this post.
~ Graduate Fellow Heather