Eleventh grade Arrow Week: A photo journey through Wyoming

By Thea Leimone, Features Editor

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  • Mia Ronn (’23) sits on a boulder with her notebook during Archer’s 11th grade Arrow Week excursion. The trip took students through the backwoods off of Lander, Wyoming with The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). With five days of backpacking, 11th grade Arrow Week is the third Arrow Week offered to students, following a seventh and ninth grade trip, each at a different location.

    Photo credit: Sydney Frank

  • Maya Bajaj (’23) laughs in the sun during a break. “These are some of the students that I taught my first year, when I was new to Archer, when they were in seventh grade, so it was really lovely to have that time to reconnect with them, as young adults. I think it was a really unique opportunity to get to know students who I’ve never taught before,” science teacher and Experiential-Ed Coordinator Casey Huff said.

    Photo credit: Zoe Epps

  • Sydney Frank (’23) and Mia Ronn (’23) pose with homemade pizza at dinner. Students make their own meals and learn cooking basics in the wilderness. “Being social with other people can come in different forms. It’s different in different places and when you don’t have your phone with you, you’re able to connect with other people more and bond with them,” Mia Makower (’23) said.

    Photo credit: Sydney Frank

  • “It was a lot more fun than I thought it was going to be, which was surprising because I wasn’t excited. My last Arrow Week one wasn’t the best experience for me, but my group this time, it was like very unlikely, very, but they were definitely good,” Zoe Epps (’23) said. “We were all put together and then just like very confused on why we were put together, but he still had fun.”

    Photo credit: Mia Makower

  • NOLS is one of Archer’s signature programs designed to give and teach students leadership experience, environmental appreciation and teamwork skills. “The scenery was really pretty, there was a river that we sat by on in the certain campground location, and we lucked out, and we were just talking to each other and there were like these really pretty trees and there were like birds and it was, it was just super serene, peaceful,” Mia Makower (’23) said.

    Photo credit: Mia Makower

  • “Arrow Week is awesome even if you are nervous or scared. I think if you’re able to push through it, it’s such a worthwhile experience to go,” Casey Huff said. “The food is really good. I was really impressed with the taste of the food, I mean I knew we’d have enough calories but it was honestly really delicious– You’re really capable of doing hard things.”

    Photo credit: Mia Makower

  • Students read a map during a day hike. Other skills taught and practiced during Arrow Week are the ability to read maps, practice risk management and lead your peers through a trip. “I think the physical challenges were just the worst. There were boulders that were really difficult for us to get across at one point, so that was just really physically difficult. I was just climbing there, and there were moments that were really hard with the pack and everything–it can be rough,” Mia Ronn (’23) said.

    Photo credit: Mia Makower

  • A group traverses across rocks by a lake with their packs. Some groups are given a challenge day, and each day a student is assigned to lead their hiking group. The mental and physical challenges are part of the goal to create confident female leaders. “On our challenge day we hiked about three and a half miles to the upper portion of a lake,” Casey Huff said. “And just that moment that we knew we had made it, the view was so stunning.”

    Photo credit: Zoe Epps

  • Eleventh-graders Keera Levell-Guerrero, Isabelle Millman, Margaret Morris, Mia Ronn, Georgia Ehrlich, Sydney Frank, Zoe Woolenberg and Paulina DePaulo pose while in the field. “I would say just how difficult the bonding experiences can be. I genuinely couldn’t imagine how comfortable we would all be with each other so quickly,” Ronn said. “I learned, and was impressed by how much we can handle — learning what we can really handle.”

    Photo credit: Sydney Frank

  • Students faced delays with the cancellation of their flight that led to an over 20 hour long bus ride to Wyoming. “It was definitely an adventure, because of the 20 hour bus ride to get there and the flight being canceled and everything. But once I was there it was super fun and Wyoming was beautiful, so I had a good time,” Mia Makower (’23) said. “The most challenging moment was sleeping. First of all I had a hard time sleeping in the tent, but also backpacking because it was a lot of weight to hold on my back my shoulders, but I managed to do it.”

    Photo credit: Sydney Frank

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Late this summer, as the rest of the Archer community readied for the school year, much of the 11th grade found themselves backpacking through the wilderness of Wyoming. In seventh, ninth and 11th grade, students embark on a five day backpacking retreat, called Arrow Week, through The National Outdoor Leadership School known as NOLS. Due to fires and COVID-19, multiple Arrow Weeks have been cancelled in the past two years.

While this year’s 11th grade Arrow Week was completed, they did face a complication. With a base camp in Lander Wyoming, the grade and chaperones first had to make an over 20 hour long bus drive to the location after their flight was cancelled and the backpacking time was reduced. Ultimately, students expressed appreciation for the bonding time they were given with their classmates, and for the scenery of the trip.