Our Week in Idyllwild (9th Grade)


Lucy Jaffee, Staff Writer

 This past week, the ninth graders took a trip to Idyllwild. Because the trip was relatively shorter than the rest of the Upper School experiential education trips, we arrived at the site on Tuesday morning and were greeted by some of the tenth graders who chose to go on the Idyllwild Arts trip and had arrived one day prior. The two-hour drive was full of mountainside views and small, rural towns. Upon reaching the grounds, we met with our advisories and the naturalists, the people who had chosen to lead us through our activities that week, and got an overview of the trip and the goals we had for our advisory. Once settled in our rooms, the activities began. That afternoon, we mostly played fun, yet challenging, games within our advisories to get the energy up. Our first test of teamwork was presented while strategizing to beat another advisory in “Alaskan Baseball,” but that was only our first challenge as a group. On Wednesday, my group began with the low ropes courses and transitioned to the high ropes after lunch. Surprisingly, the low ropes course challenged our ability to work together more than the high courses did, despite being significantly closer to the ground.

One of the courses was the low-V ropes course and my group, like most, found it the most difficult. The low-V course has two wires, about a foot off the ground, connected by a tree at the top, creating a “V” shape. To successfully complete it, you and your partner had to push on each other and walk along each wire, meaning how you did was completely dependent on your cooperation. The wire was incredibly narrow, so your peers spotted you just in case you slipped. To perform the task without worry, we had to trust that the students spotting would catch us in case of emergency. After we spent over thirty minutes on the activity, our group quickly bonded, especially those of us who were partners. Even after moving on to our next activities we reminded each other about that experience, laughing at what small mistakes were made and reflecting upon what worked best.

Afterward, we went on the high ropes courses. My personal favorite was called the Leap of Faith. You climbed up a tree and transitioned onto a small wooden platform off of which you would jump off. Obviously, we were wearing harnesses, but I still had cold feet and was almost afraid to participate.

Thursday morning we walked into the quiet town of Idyllwild and completed a fifteen question scavenger hunt. Our trip into town was supposed to be a way for us to explore local cafes and shops, but we ended up only going to a grocery store because of how tedious the scavenger hunt was. After lunch, which was sandwiches for our third time, we went on a pretty rigorous hike where we saw beautiful mountain views and some plants with interesting uses discovered by the indigenous people who used to live there. Friday morning was just packing up and then sitting in the common area stalling for an hour before we finally departed back to school.

As someone who isn’t fond of being away from home and doesn’t love most outdoor activities, I still found this trip pretty bearable and overall higher than my expectations. I think what contributed the most to my enjoyment was the people I was around. My room was a combination of some of my very close friends and others I didn’t know as well yet. By the last day, we had a ton of fun together and became much closer. A similar friendship was formed among my advisory. Through these team building exercises and spending most of our day with each other, everyone in my advisory has become my friend and someone I know I can trust. Without this trip, we would still be strangers who meet once every few days.

Socially, I had an amazing time; however, there were a few setbacks. The food was an obvious issue. Even ignoring the fact that four people got sick off of raw chicken the first night, the selection at lunch was incredibly limited, and the food wasn’t very accommodating to those with dietary restrictions and, in all honesty, just wasn’t that tasty. Luckily, I brought a ton of snacks to share with my roommates, but living off of Cheez-its isn’t my favorite. Also, we weren’t told ahead of time on the packing list to bring a watch or clock, so once my phone was taken away, I began showing up late to every activity. Looking back, these are very nit-picky problems, and I’m glad I could participate in this experience.


Here are some photos from our various activities:

The high ropes course, left and the low-V course, right.