By Julie Barzilay
This week, seventh grade students are scaling mountains and bunking in log cabins a year early in a revamped retreat. While the eighth and ninth grade programs have not changed since last year, seventh grade retreat has undergone a small transformation.
Previously, the seventh graders would return home every night after days full of various local activities.
This year, however, marks the introduction of an overnight at Camp Gilmore in Calabasas.
The new retreat divides the class in two, with Badgers and Ferrets in one group and Polecats and Otters in the other. These sections will switch schedules half way through the four day excursion.
The schedules comprise two full days of exploration in the areas between Reagan Ranch and Malibu Lagoon, during which the students will sleep at Camp Gilmore for a night.
The second half of retreat involves the familiar beach day, at which CPR and surfing are taught, and an extended visit to the Aquarium of the Pacific.
However the tour of the upper school, which offered students a small flavor of what life is like on the Coldwater Campus, has been cut from the agenda.
Seventh grade deans Josh Budde and Julie Harris, along with middle school math and French teacher Betsy Ilg and middle school history teacher Stephen Chan, are primarily in charge of coordinating the details of the seventh grade retreat. According to Ilg, the changes have been evolving for a few years.
She explained, “in the past, the seventh grade retreat offered fantastic common shared experiences, but this year we thought we would conduct the program away from campus like the others,”
She also felt that the emphasis on outdoor activities would provide better preparation for the retreats the following years.
“Now, thereâs a wonderful flow and progression of retreats from one grade to the next.”
Ilg feels there are also benefits to the new program because “faculty and staff are freed up to spend time enjoying the activities with their groups instead of having to plan them [and] staff them.”
Stephanie Maldonado â11 agrees that the changes will enhance the program; “an overnight would be great for the seventh graders, because that way they get to spend more time together to getting to know each other.”
Ilg is confident there is “something for everyone,” between the hike, crafts, games, sleepover, the beach and aquarium.
“The overnight will make the retreat more exciting and interesting because weâll have more hours to spend with classmates,” Jessica Gold â12 said.
Many people dedicated hours of their time to perfecting the new retreat, and Ilg is really excited, she said.