Riverdale Country School

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Middle School News & Stories

Eighth Grade Trip: A Hike, A Dip, A "Real Real Life"
Posted 06/13/2016 10:41AM

In May, the eighth grade divided into small groups for five days of outdoor adventure. The students could choose kayaking on the Delaware River, cycling in Lancaster County, or hiking in the Delaware Water Gap. Lily Wellington '20 chose hiking. In this essay, she describes a favorite memory from the trip.

"Are you going in?” I’ve asked a few people already, and unfortunately, their answers so far have all been no. The lake is downright scenic. The water glistens for goodness’ sake. The trees around it are green, the weather is finally right for swimming, and the sky is bright blue. We stopped here for lunch after walking four miles...out of seven. All of us are sticky with sweat and covered in dirt. Needless to say, the lake sounds great. I may not be able to shower but the lake is the next best thing. Besides, it’s been almost a year since I last swam. (The swimming unit in P.E. does not count.) But it seems that my peers do not share my thoughts. None of them want to go in. And I can’t just go in alone. I don’t know why I can’t go in alone, but I can’t. Finally, after some nagging, I get my friends Izzie, Elie, and Kylie to go with me into the water.

We change into shorts and sports bras behind a bathroom. If you want to call it that. It’s a hole in the ground with a toilet seat cover, but sure, it’s a bathroom. Then we walk carefully to the water’s edge. Deven and Knut, two guys on the trip, are in the water already. I plow ahead from the rest of them and walk waist deep into the water. It’s so cold. No, like, so cold. The waves lick delicately at my bare skin and all I can think of is hypothermia and icicles for fingers and being best friends with a snowman.

I’ve never swum in a lake before. I don’t know why. The opportunity never presented itself. I turned 14 the first day of the trip. Already I’ve experienced so many new things. Rock climbing on actual rocks, sleeping in a tent in the woods, filtering my own water, and cleaning my dirty bowl with leaves. I’ve just turned 14 and already the world is stretching itself to accommodate me. And more than that, it’s providing all these new chances at real life. Because school isn’t real real life. Real real life is squeezing hands with your friends, counting “THREE...TWO...ONE” at the top of your lungs, and dunking into icy water. Not knowing what’s underneath you, (harmless fish or life-threatening sea urchin?...Those exist right?) but believing it’ll be all right.   

I pop up to see the girls laughing and running their fingers through their sopping hair. They get out pretty quickly but I hang back with the other people in the lake. We float a little, dunk a bunch more, play with the small fish at our feet (“It’s like a spa!” “What what? What happens at spas?!” Oh boys.), and obviously we splash each other with water. After we get out I’m in such a good mood. Whereas before I was tired and dirty, now I’m dirty and happy. Bursting really. As we start hiking again and I can feel my cheeks getting all stretched out from smiling, I realize what the eighth grade trip has done for me. I’ve tried so many new things in such a short period of time that I know now that I don’t have to wait til school ends to begin my life. I’m doing it in my everyday decisions. Whether I stay home and binge watch "How to Get Away With Murder," or go to the graduation party that’s happening downtown. My trip leaders would be shocked to hear this, what with the staggering amounts of complaining we all did, but I had a great time on the trip. Ten out of ten would do again.


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Bronx, NY 10471
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