Each fall, for the start of our academic year, CELC students travel together. The week away provides the group a fresh beginning, a time to bond and connect with one another and with oneself.
This year brought us to the Keewaydin Environmental Education Center (KEEC). A place that serves middle school students throughout the year, the teaching style matches the way CELC operates – through investigation, exploration, and wonder. Students each were heard and recognized, had ideas to share, questions to ask, and a lot of fun through both study and much play. The staff are dedicated educators, energetic and vibrant with incredible knowledge and gifts to share and impart.
For our week 5 – 9 October, CELC was the only group at KEEC. Enjoying our time alongside Lake Dunmore, on the western edge of the Green Mountains in Salisbury, Vermont, CELC students came away renewed and empowered.
Following are some excerpts from CELC student journals:
When my fellow classmates and I traveled to the state of Vermont, we embarked on a new adventure at KEEC. It was one of the best adventures that I will forever remember in my life. What I appreciate most of all from the experience is the feeling of courage and completion. For example, we traveled [by foot] up to Silver Lake and I thought that I might not be able to hike that long of a distance, and yet I did. The feeling I had was remarkable – that I made it to my goal, hiking for six hours in the middle of a thick layer of woods, not knowing where exactly we were going. This is what I appreciate most from the trip.
— Chris M., 2nd-year CELCer
I appreciate that the staff at Keewaydin was really nice and fun to spend time with; I felt very safe with them. I am very grateful for the beautiful views on the mountain. One thing I learned at KEEC is to never give up on the hike, because after many miles there was always a beautiful view. I think not giving up is a very good lesson in life. This is because people who give up lose hope and may become depressed. They also might not have a good life.
— Galina C., 1st-year CELCer
At KEEC I learned a lot. I learned how to pitch a tent and how to cook over an open fire. I hiked up a mountain, which made me stronger both mentally and physically.
— Ronnie S., 2nd-year CELCer
I miss KEEC already! Today while I was getting dressed, I went to go put on my name tag. When I realized that I wasn’t at KEEC anymore, it made me really sad, but also happy because I got to experience being there for an entire week. And even though I wish we could’ve stayed longer, I’m eternally grateful because Keewaydin is a gift. Everyone there is so accepting, a place that let’s you be yourself. Acceptance is a quality that I admire so much, and I am so grateful that I got to sound a week in this community.
I can’t wait until I’m out of college and broke because Tim said you must be both of these things to start working at KEEC! I would really like to make someone else’s week at KEEC special, just like for our week everybody did for me.
— Sue H., 3rd-year CELCer
What I appreciate most from my week at KEEC is learning my limits of how far I can hike and getting to meet everyone who works at KEEC. Everyone was so sweet! I already miss them.
I was challenged by the hike because I’ve never before hiked for so long ! I overcame my challenges by just thinking about how good I would feel at the end of the day. I will apply what I learned to my life because when I think I can’t go on with something, I will try to think about how good I will feel by the end of the day!
— Sophie B., 3rd-year CELCer
Over the past week of CELC, we visited KEEC, and though it was my second time there, the experience was completely new, and it held many surprises and challenges I had to overcome. I believe that my most important experience and greatest challenge are linked because I would have never understood the experience without the challenge.
Let me explain: On the Silver Lake hike, my group [boys] was hiking back on the trail the girls had mapped out for their hike up, but we … walked down the “wrong” side of Mount Moosalamoo. Our group had to hike for 20 minutes to try to find “our way”. The group was feeling down. I was really tired and frustrated and scared because I do not like the feeling of being lost. This sparked a realization of zen and peace and there it was, at the top of this mountain I saw Tibetan Prayer Flags! This gave me the feeling that we were back on track and doing fine.
I made an effort to be nice and cheerful and joking together. I, Melinda, and later some others were holding the group together by singing and dancing and sharing philosophical insights. Eventually, when we got home (well, to KEEC), the happiness and pride that I was a cheerful influence and helped keep the group going a bit is one of the best feelings I have ever had.
— Cade, 3rd-year CELCer
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