Annual Wilderness Adventures trip provides opportunities for student growth

Mrs. Kate Rudolph
The 7th- and 8th-grade students had an exciting opportunity this past week to experience the beauty of nature, build community with their classmates, and test their own strength and perseverance through backpacking and camping trips guided by Jackson-based tour company, Wilderness Adventures (owned and operated by JHCA’s Holland family!). The 7th graders spent the week at Camp Open Door near Granite Hot Springs with 6th-grade homeroom teacher Mr. Ian McRae, while the 8th graders backpacked into the Jedediah Smith Wilderness, just north of Grand Teton National Park, with 8th-grade homeroom teacher Ms. Abigail Anderson.
According to Dean of Students Samuel Lunz, these trips provide our students with an opportunity to deepen friendships and learn valuable lessons in teamwork, and develop leadership skills in situations not always available in the classroom. “Wilderness Adventures does an amazing job of planning these trips according to our school mission, vision, and philosophy. Their trip leaders are phenomenal and they do a fantastic job,” he said.

Thes trips also provide opportunities for personal growth in an environment that may be outside of a student’s comfort zone. A week-long camping trip away from their family and the internet, for instance, is certainly outside the comfort zone for many students. However, it is precisely when students step outside of what is comfortable and normal that real growth can happen. We see many students return from these trips with new confidence and understanding of their own abilities, and that translates back into the classroom.

While we strive to inspire students’ sense of wonder in the classroom through their exposure to great works of literature, poetry, and art, a fundamental way to experience wonder and beauty is to spend time in God’s creation without distraction. We can hear God better in silence, not always literal silence, but with the intentional putting aside of distractions. Time spent away from the constant stimulation of television and social media can give students an important opportunity to reflect and to sit with God in His beautiful creation.

In the words of Pope John Paul II, “The way Jesus shows you is not easy. Rather, it is like a path winding up a mountain. Do not lose heart! The steeper the road the faster it rises toward even wider horizons.” Whether it is climbing a literal mountain or stepping outside one’s comfort zone in another way, practicing self-discipline, courage, and perseverance in small ways can help students when the bigger challenges come. 

At JHCA, we encourage all students to pursue excellence and virtue, both in and out of the classroom. This is an important part of educating the whole person, helping each child to become most fully himself or herself, as a son or daughter of God. Therefore, climbing a mountain becomes more than just climbing a mountain, and a challenging assignment becomes more than just a challenging assignment. These become the building blocks of character, which students will carry with them far beyond the walls of JHCA or the mountains of Wyoming.

As we should expect from all of the most worthwhile experiences, Mr. Lunz says “they should return from their trip exhausted and full of joy!”

Mountain Range


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