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DEC. 14, 2018

The Ultimate Question: How Do We Take OA Home With Us?

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Most evenings on the third floor of the sun lodge, there is lots of commotion. A hum of young women getting ready for bedtime, talking about the homework they have due the next day, figuring out who is going to set an alarm for the next morning. Finally, around 9:55 pm the chaos settles and both West and East Side cabins flick on their lamps for the closing of the day; evening meeting. This meeting looks different in each cabin, with each resident, each semester, however one thing I can be certain of is that around this time in the semester the same questions and emotions begin to spring up. “We only have 5 more nights in our cabin!!!” “No, that’s not possible I’m never leaving OA.” “I am going to miss you all so much!” and finally the ultimate question… “How do we take OA home with us?”

As a mentor for many of these young women, this is a hard one to answer sometimes. “No,” I must say, “the sun lodge is pretty rooted to this spot I don’t think it is going anywhere.” and “Yes, it’s true you all will have to leave this coming Saturday.” and unfortunately, “No, you can’t hide out here until next semester.” However, this question of transference is the whole reason to attend a semester school or have any important experience. It is what you can take home with you, how you will share your knowledge that really counts.

This is an ongoing conversation and one that is full of beauty and excitement each way that you look. A way to take a piece of The Outdoor Academy home with you that feels particularly relevant right now, after this semester’s experience of Buffalo Cove and a weekend filled with giving day time and trail maintenance, is simple living. This past weekend, the faculty created a space where our community felt incredibly self sufficient; cooking over fires, building steps in some slippery and muddy trails, and developing skills in sewing, knitting, and carving.

Below I want to share some of the ways that the incredible Semester 47 students want to take home this lesson of simple living from the Outdoor Academy. To share this very important aspect of our school and community with their families, friends, and future selves.

“I’m going to reduce and reuse EVERYTHING! I’m going to use my phone less and hopefully influence my peers to do so as well.” — Anna Benzel

“I will get up with a purpose each morning.” — Wilson Zembo

“I’m definitely going to think more about my wants and my needs.” — Emma Comer

“I’m going to get rid of all my stuff.” — Finlay Bennet and Luci Meyer

“I will surround myself only with positive and needed items, belongings, and people.” — Luci Meyer

“I am going to get rid of social media (no more comparison), stop hoarding things and instead give them away, and finally re-evaluate how I’m spending my time and with who.” — Cesca Medeiros

These students wanted to share their hopes and goals to live simply beyond OA not only for themselves and their peers, but for others to be inspired to take a little piece of The Outdoor Academy into their homes and lives.

Ultimately, there is no exact answer to the question that the young women of the sun lodge asked during our evening meeting, beyond The Outdoor Academy you will likely immediately apply some skills while for others it may take weeks, months, or years to fully understand the lessons learned from this beautiful community. Either way, it’s an exciting new door to step through as our semester begins to come to a close.


By Madison Atterbury, Resident Wilderness Educator