Conquering rock climbing walls, zip-lining, and traversing obstacle courses were just a few of the team building activities the eighth grade engaged in while away at Bryn Mawr in Pennsylvania last week. Every year, cultural history teacher Mark Tompkins and English teacher Ria Maxwell take eighth graders on this retreat designed to teach them about leadership, cooperation, and respect. The trip also unites the students and teachers as they spend a week together getting to know each other outside the confines of the classroom.
Working together in small group competitions, the students assembled chariots that could carry a person and built boats out of garbage bags, cardboard boxes, and a roll of duct tape with the goal of being able to paddle 40 yards out into a lake. Other competitions included an outdoor obstacle course featuring walls, tubes, and tightropes, and a ping pong ball catapult contest, wherein each team received 35 popsicle sticks, five rubber bands, masking tape, and a cup and were tasked with building a contraption that could launch their ping pong ball the farthest. Through these activities, the students learned how to work with each other, be part of a team, lead without being “bossy,” and take risks in a safe environment.
“It’s about leadership, cooperation, and responding to these various challenges,” said Mark. “Then, ultimately, the goal is to figure out how these skills that make them successful are transferable to school and life.”