‘Still an incredible trip either way’: Arrow Week and senior trip rescheduled to spring

A+group+hiking+to+their+first+campsite+in+Utah+during+the+Class+of+2024s+seventh+grade+Arrow+Week+trip.+Due+to+wildfires+and+sudden+cold+fronts%2C+environmental+excursions+such+as+the+eighth-grade+Arrow+Week+and+Senior+Trip+have+been+further+delayed+to+spring.+I+feel+like+for+other+people%2C+they+might+have+been+a+little+bit+more+apprehensive.+But+I+think+overall%2C+we+were+all+pretty+excited%2C+Roberts+said.+And+I+dont+think+thats+changed.+Its+just+been+a+longer+anticipation+for+everyone.

Photo credit: Cory Bluemling

A group hiking to their first campsite in Utah during the Class of 2024’s seventh grade Arrow Week trip. Due to wildfires and sudden cold fronts, environmental excursions such as the eighth-grade Arrow Week and Senior Trip have been further delayed to spring. “I feel like for other people, they might have been a little bit more apprehensive. But I think overall, we were all pretty excited,” Roberts said. “And I don’t think that’s changed. It’s just been a longer anticipation for everyone.”

By Maia Alvarez, Multimedia Editor

After a year of remote learning, Arrow Week has been repeatedly delayed due to the pandemic and cold fronts, and the senior trip has faced similar rescheduling issues. As part of Archer’s curriculum, students embark on a one-week wilderness expedition to apply classroom skills such as tolerance for adversity, leadership and collaboration.

Experiential Education Coordinator Casey Huff said the eighth grade Arrow Week trip to Yosemite was initially planned for October, as that was the “perfect window” to go.

“However, there was a very random cold front that came down from Canada,” Huff said. “That made it unseasonably cold. There was snow at very low elevations, below freezing temperature. So, in good conscience, we just could not send kids on the trail when it was 20 degrees.” 

The eighth grade Arrow Week trip highlights many new programmatic changes including the trip taking place in the eighth grade instead of seventh grade, traveling in-state instead of out-of-state and shortening the trip from an entire week to four days.

“It is a little bit shorter for the eighth grade given that it’s many students’ first time away from home for an extended period of time and it’s many students’ first time camping or backpacking,” Huff said. We thought that a good introduction into our experiential education program and Arrow Week with a little bit of a shorter trip would be a good way to orient and introduce students to this part of Archer’s curriculum.”

Eighth grader Skylar Roberts said postponing the trip was helpful in the return back to campus.

“We were all disappointed at first, but now that I look back on it, I feel grateful,” Roberts said. “Especially coming back from remote learning, we were getting used to coming back into in-person. It’s nice to be more acclimated to the environment, to more comfortably make the transition to living in the wilderness.”

In preparation for the potential of the cold front lasting until the new Arrow Week date in May, the National Outdoor Leadership School has taken precautions in the scenario that no backpacking can take place.

“As a backup plan, we have reserved canvas tents and cots. Students will sleep there, so we’ll be sleeping somewhat indoors, a little bit safer from the elements, and then they’ll be able to do day hikes,” Huff said. “The curriculum, the nature of the trip, really stays the same. It’s just that with snow, some of the trails that we would need to access in order to backpack are going to be closed.”

In addition to the eighth grade Arrow Week trip, the 2021 senior trip has been postponed to May. As the senior class didn’t get to experience Arrow Week during their junior year, according to Huff, the senior trip serves as an “extended fall outing” for the canceled Arrow Week and annual Fall Outing.

“Right at the end of August, when everybody was going [on Fall Outing], the Caldor fire got really bad,” Huff said. “And unfortunately, air quality and safety took precedent, so we had to consider rescheduling, postponing the trip. And fortunately, we have amazing vendors that we work with, and they were able to make it happen.”

Senior Mikayla Weinhouse said despite challenges conflicting with the senior trip, the school has continued to foster connection.

“It would have been the best in the world if we could have had the experience before senior year but I totally understand that it just wasn’t possible between COVID and the fires,” Weinhouse said. “And now, [with] a new COVID strain, who knows what’s going to happen. I think the school has done a really good job of at least trying to create opportunities for seniors to have a chance to make up for that trip.”

Typically, by ninth grade, the class prepares for their second Arrow Week. However, this year’s freshman class is now preparing for their first. Their initial Arrow Week excursion was canceled in the seventh grade due to the pandemic. Now, the freshman class is set to go in March to Arizona, a first backpacking experience for many students, including freshman August Kohn.

“I think it’s going be a really fun, great trip,” Kohn said. “And also given that this is ninth grade, we had a lot of new students come into our grade. I think it will be a really great opportunity to be able to bond with some new students and meet some new people. I’m really hoping it doesn’t get canceled again because I know that in all this Omicron craziness, there’s a lot of uncertainty.”

Despite setbacks, eighth and ninth grade Arrow Week and the senior trip are scheduled for spring.

“I’m really excited for this one,” Kohn said. “I think it’s just going to be a really unique opportunity that I’ll never forget, and when I’m a senior and looking back at my time at Archer, I think it’s definitely going to be a prominent memory.”