By Alison Oh ’19
Seventh graders headed to Catalina for retreat during Oct. 12-15. As only 112 spots were available for the trip, spots were given through a lottery.
Students were split into 8 groups of 14 for the duration of retreat. Each group was assigned a teacher supervisor as well as a naturalist from the Naturalists at Large program.
The naturalists, together with the teachers, helped the students enjoy the Catalina experience, encouraging them to try new things and make new friends. The adults worked to ensure student safety.
“What was fun for me was getting to be close with the kids in my group […] Everyone was really supportive of one another. Our Naturalist was intuitive and flexible,” Kate Benton, a Catalina group leader and seventh grade dean, said.
While in Catalina, students participated in a number of activities including games to encourage teamwork as well as outdoor activities like snorkeling, kayaking and hiking.
“During the kayak wars, we all went on kayaks with a partner and tried to flip other people’s boats. We would jump into the water and flip the teachers’ or our friends’ boats. That was really fun,” Elias Peter ’21 said.
Catalina, also known as Santa Catalina Island, is 26 miles from the Middle School and is home to varieties of wildlife
Students say they were able to explore Catalina’s beautiful wildlife, including the variety of wild animals, together with their naturalists and teachers.
“There were bison everywhere. I think [seeing them] was one of my favorite parts of retreat,” Ally Landecker ’21 said.
Many students especially enjoyed the opportunity to see marine life during the optional night snorkeling experience.
“My favorite part of retreat was when we got to go snorkeling at night. It was kind of cold and dark, but I had a lot of fun with my friends,” Peter said.
Seventh graders said they were happy with the experiences they had at their first retreat, emphasizing that the opportunity to spend some time away from school together with their peers helped them to make new friends and grow closer to old friends.
“I didn’t expect it, because I already knew a lot of the people in my group, but I actually met a lot of new people and had a lot of fun,” Athalia Meron ’21 said.