On October 6th, Sequoyah’s junior class met with Field Studies head Brian Eagan, to learn more about their upcoming backpacking trip, which is set for November 9th through 12th, 2021. The trip will take place in Joshua Tree and will be divided into four groups of eight students; students have to fill out a form that outlines who they want in their groups. The faculty advisors will be Yvonne Chiu Hays, Lindsey Graham, and Aimee Zvinakis, as well as a fourth advisor who is yet to be named.
The first day of the trip will consist of driving to Joshua Tree, then backpacking two miles. The second and third days will each be about five miles, and the final day will be another two miles and include the return back to school. Eagen explained that the schedule is relatively stringent because there are only certain places that students will be allowed to set up camp; on the trails, there will also be limited access to water. To address this, Eagen will be leaving jugs of water along the trails for juniors to find so they can stay hydrated.
While Eagen provided extensive information, students still had more to say. Many revealed that they were nervous about the trip, while others expressed excitement.
After the meeting, Maria Paz Posada, an incoming junior this year, noted that she is eager to connect with her new classmates. She “think[s] it will be fun to bond with [her] peers, and hope[s] it rains because that would be really fun.” Echoing other students, Posada expressed her concern about the lack of water in the desert. Posada noted that she is “also really terrified about not having enough water because [she’s] a person that drinks a lot of water, and being dehydrated freaks [her] out.”
Julia Hoffman ’23 also communicated fears about the upcoming trip. While she described her excitement for the challenge and for how it will “probably be pretty beautiful there,” she also had some concerns about carrying a heavy backpack and the strenuous nature of the trip.
Simon Listiak ’23, expressed “feeling ‘meh’ about it.” However, they indicated that the trip might be a nice break from the academic world. “Part of me is like ‘college, college, college!’ but I mean, I guess it’s a nice break from that feeling.” They are also in agreement with everyone else that “Joshua Tree is a really pretty place.” Upon hearing about the possibility of seeing tortoises, they expressed that “that was a sell… The tortoises are my motivation!”
Meanwhile, Charlotte Dumont ’23 noted that she is “not the biggest fan of camping,” and said, “I wouldn’t say there’s a lot I’m excited for,” aside from spending time with her friends. However, she is worried that she will not be put in a group with them. “Hopefully my form request is listened to! … When you’re not with your friends, it’s like ten times worse,” she explained.
In the meeting, there was some talk about Covid safety. In Dumont’s opinion, the Covid protocols for the trip are “pretty good, because we are somewhat in a bubble– going to school everyday together.” She thinks that “by getting tested twice before, and wearing masks when needed, there will [not] be any issues.”
Even though many people are feeling some apprehension about the trip, others have no qualms. Axel Stash ’23 was unequivocal in noting, “I’m excited for it!” Max Rabaudi ’23, a long-time Sequoyah student, has been on many of these trips before. He noted some of the things that enticed him about the upcoming trip. He said, “I’m looking forward to being away from my phone and not having a chance to be on it, and I guess just going and experiencing nature.” When asked if there was anything he wasn’t looking forward to, he replied that “There’s really nothing [he’s] not looking forward to.”
Overall, students have many reservations about the upcoming backpacking trip, but they are excited as well. By all accounts, it’s shaping up to be a memorable experience.