Volume 31



8th Grade Retreat Recap: Joshua Tree

Camryn Banafsheha

A mere 40 eighth grade students set off for the annual middle school retreat on Monday, Oct. 10, backpacking and camping in Joshua Tree National Park. Unlike the standard eighth grade trip to Catalina Island, this retreat option provided a more challenging and traditional camping experience for the students who chose to attend.

The students were divided into four trail groups for the trip. Each group was led by a school faculty member and a guide from Naturalists at Large, the external organization used for school retreats. Students made stronger connections with peers through hiking, rock climbing, performing skits and playing games together on the campgrounds.

Raquel Reyes ’27 enjoyed witnessing her classmates helping each other on the trip.

“We [students] wouldn’t have been able to get through the trip if we didn’t work together,” Reyes said. “We really helped each other out overall and that made it the best experience.”

A part of the trip was spent backpacking through the desert. Trail groups hiked separately to various destinations and set up camp amidst nature, where they stayed overnight. Some students even chose to ‘cowboy camp’ or sleep outside of the tents under the stars.

Lead Chaperone and science teacher David Cleland said he always looks forward to the annual Joshua Tree trip.

“It’s just a fun time to be out in the middle of nowhere where there’s no one else,” Cleland said. “I think it’s the best retreat.”

Students encountered rain throughout their journey, as well. Many groups were out rock climbing or hiking when the rain began, forcing many to find shelter under large rock formations. Although unexpected, students came back with stories to share and a beaming rainbow overhead.

Ella Temple ’27 said being stranded in the rain ended up being a memorable bonding experience.

“Being under that rock, we were all squeezed in there and we were forced to socialize and play games to pass the time,” Temple said. “I feel like the rain was a way of pushing everyone closer than they could have been.”

Margaux Schlumberger ’27 said life in the desert left an impact on many students, because it offered an alternative lifestyle and a shift in perspective.

“It just reminded me how lucky we are to live in a place where something as gorgeous as Joshua Tree is only hours away,” Schlumberger said. “It feels like [Joshua Tree] could be on another planet.”

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About the Contributor
Camryn Banafsheha ’27 is a first year Spectrum reporter. She enjoys interviewing people, and she truly loves to write as a part of the journalism team. She started off writing as a hobby and loves to write formally for school. She writes the weekly Wolverweek, which gives an overview of the week’s events, athletics, and some funny fails from students. Banafsheha plans on joining the Chronicle at the upper school and to continue pursuing her passion for journalism. 
“I just love to write. It’s a great way for me to express myself, and I feel like it’s always been something I’ve been able to do.”
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