At the end of August, my class and I hiked seven miles into the middle of nowhere along the Rubicon trail. These seven essays are a collection of stories from those three days.
"Rise and shine, Kings and Queens of the Rubicon!" I and a couple of my friends were already awake and sitting by the lagoon, but when we turned around we could see people slowly rising up from their sleeping bags. Kings and Queens, alright. Disheveled royalty at its finest.
This was our second morning in The Great Wide Middle of Nowhere, and two of my friends and I had decided to get up before everyone else and have a bonding session by the lagoon. We awoke around 7:15 and pulled our jackets tightly around us as we talked about big things like how our year had been going so far, what we wanted for the future, and smaller things such as what our dreams the previous night had been. A few more people woke up slowly and joined us, making a tiny circle of seniors huddled in the small patch of sunshine.
This was only one of the many times people in our class were able to bond. We spent the entire weekend together, so it was only natural that we'd all get to know each other better. When all the girls woke up the first morning we crowded around the warmest sleeping bags and found the bags of bagels and containers of slightly questionable cream cheese. The cooking groups each attempted to make macaroni and cheese and ramen out of old coffee containers and boiled water, and some groups put up with teasing voices of those not interested in adding carrots to everything (don't make that face... my group simply wanted to be a little healthier!).
When I think back on the trip and on the bonding moments we had together, four particular events come to mind. I'm going to talk about two such events today, because the other two deserve their own posts. Both of the times I'm going to talk about happened at night, and the first took place on the Friday. We were all crowded around the campfire when one of the sponsors asked us each to mention what our plan was for next year, and what our biggest goal in life was. As each person around the campfire spoke, everyone else learned things we didn't know before. While most of us want different things career wise, there were two common themes: all of us want to either help people or make them happy.
The second bonding experience took place on the last night. Before I go on, you should know two things about me: I don't like the dark, and I don't like water. You should also know that while I've learned how to manage my anxiety for the most part, it becomes harder to do so when I feel out of control. What I didn't know going into Senior Survival is that there is a longstanding tradition of everyone in the class walking in a line with their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. This sounds fine, right (if you ignore the personal space bubble)? Try it in the pitch darkness with no talking and with no socks or shoes. Needless to say, I began to panic. Before I go on, let me offer some quick advice to anyone who may be reading this who goes to my school and is worried about going on Senior Survival in the future just because of this tradition: Stand in front of someone who knows you are anxious and who you know can calm you down, and behind someone who you trust to guide you. The sponsors are going to tell you not to talk, but honestly if you whisper quietly enough they aren't going to care. I kept a light with me just in case, and if that will make you feel better do that too.
Okay, back to the story. Luckily, I was behind someone I trusted and I was in front of someone who knew about my anxious tendencies and was able to calm me down. The girl in front of me whispered what was coming (including walking by water), and the girl behind me constantly reassured me. A girl a few people in front of me would reach her hand back every so often to make sure I was okay, and when everything was over, I was wrapped in a giant hug with about four other people. We were then instructed to go to the lagoon and "wash each other's feet" I stayed with three of the people and we all decided to skip the feet washing and one of the girls simply prayed something along the lines of "this may work for some, but for other's it seems stupid. Thanks for listening to us and caring for us no matter which group we fall in."
Here's the thing: for an Adventist school, our class is big. With 42 students, it's the biggest class in the entire k-12 school. There are definite groups of people that get along, and there are definite groups of people who do not. In a class of this size, that is bound to happen. The thing I didn't realize before Senior Survival was that we all wanted to be more united. The Thursday after returning, the entire high school had their class elections. Each of the candidates for Senior class President had one major thing in common in their speech: helping our class bond and become united. These two experiences (and the others I'll talk about soon) started to process of getting there, and that is something I am very thankful for.
Oh, maybe I should explain who "Carla" is? She's me. One of the sponsors called me Carla for the entirety of the trip, which isn't completely out of the ordinary. Actually, people rarely get my name right the first time around. So much time had passed with her calling me Carla, though, that it just seemed strange to turn around and say "Actually, my name is Claira." Anyone else seen that episode of Friends where one of Chandler's coworkers continually gets him name wrong? Yeah, I'm just lucky it didn't turn out like that. The name is now an inside joke of sorts between me and one of my friends. So I guess this counts as another bonding experience?