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Mountain Sun Embarks On Autumn Backpacking Trip

By Kayla Leed | Brevard, NC

Mountain Sun Community School students in the sixth and seventh grades had the opportunity to be heroes on their backpacking trip that began at Butter Gap trailhead and ended on Brevard Music Center’s campus on Oct. 28.

“We used ‘The Hero’s Journey’ as the framework for the trip; each student being the ‘hero’ in his own epic journey/experience,” said Kim Skeen, outdoor education and art teacher, who led the trip with Nick Pearl, primary class assistant teacher and middle school assistant teacher.

The students will apply what they learned about the Hero’s Journey when they return to the classroom.

On day one of the trip, the group hiked about 3.5 miles from Butter Gap trailhead to the base of Cedar Rock. Once summiting Cedar Rock later that afternoon, the students spent some time breathing in all of the beauty of the season that can be seen from the rock.

The students hiked 6 miles on day two to the Bracken Mountain Preserve. The team made camp at the Bracken Mountain Shelter on the second night, where they set out for the last two miles to campus.

The group was excited to see a snake and many Monarch butterflies while on their trip. The Monarch butterfly was notably special to these students, as their class name is “The Monarchs.”

“My favorite part of the trip was Hiking to the top of Cedar Rock. I enjoyed sitting quietly, looking at the view of the mountains and seeing two Monarch butterflies on our hike up to the top of the rock,” said Arawen Leasure, a sixth grade student.

Sixth and seventh grade students gear up for their backpacking trip.

The students had a lot of time to spend alone. The staff leaders built in time for reflecting on the student’s experience, what they want to bring back to their community and their own personal connection to the natural world.

The sixth and seventh graders at Mountain Sun Community School have been on various school-led backpacking trips. This trip allowed them to draw on their past backpacking experiences, which set them up for being able to work well as a group and demonstrate their own skills and independence.

Each day, there were two students who were deemed the leaders of the day, allowing room for more independence and growth in leadership skills. These leaders were responsible for navigation, listening to the needs of the group, delegating chores around camp and having a positive attitude.

“The backpacking trip allowed me to develop stronger bonds and friendships with my classmates,” said Anson Burgess, sixth grade student.

(Mountain Sun Community School is a nonprofit 501c3 independent school in Brevard. Mountain Sun serves children ages 3 through middle school and combines Montessori education with outdoor exploration, artistic creativity, and community service. Please call (828) 885-2555 for more information.)

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