Seventh-graders had a successful and demanding Hero’s Journey Retreat last week. Students were presented with numerous challenges over the two days, and each worked hard to complete them. “We were most impressed with the students’ positive attitudes, ability to support each other, work cooperatively, understand the needs of the group, willingness to try new challenges, and persevere when things were difficult,” said MS Head Teacher & Hero’s Journey Director Theo Grayson-Funk.
They hiked up Race Mountain where they were enjoyed an incredible autumn view. They then hiked down to Sage’s Ravine where they had their jumping-in ceremony. This was a highlight for many students. They had a beautiful, fairly-warm, starlit night for camping. The final day was spent working at South Kent School’s Center for Innovation (CFI) harvesting winter squash, checking bee hives, and interacting with the farm animals.
Students commented on how meaningful each challenge and the farm work were for them, as well as how much the support of others, and maintaining a positive attitude helped them push through those challenges. They were able to push themselves to discover new boundaries. They are an energetic and positive group that became more cohesive as they had opportunities to work with different groupings. Many of the students commented how they enjoyed this and felt a shift in the overall group dynamic. It was wonderful to watch students support one another throughout the two days. It will be an exciting year of growth for the 7th-graders.
The Hero’s Journey is the year-long life skills project for 7th-graders at WMS. The project is based on “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” a non-fiction book, and seminal work of comparative mythology by Joseph Campbell. A well-know quote from the book’s introduction summarizes the universal journey of heroes. “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”
Our hope is that by exploring the ways in which we become responsible to ourselves and each other, by developing strategies to develop new skills and how to deal with setbacks, and by learning to appreciate and use the guidance of an ally, our seventh-year students will be better able to handle the temptations and road blocks that invariably arise during this important change. The symbolism of the Hero’s Journey, the public presentation of the initiate, and the achievement of a challenging personal goal all serve to give the adolescent a sense of the significance and nobility of his or her own personal journey.