Everyone has fond memories of their Middle School Camping Trips. Bonding with friends, cooking and eating good food, swimming in an ice-cold waterfall, those are the things that people remember.
In the Middle School, students in sixth and seventh grade take a trip to go camping for 3-4 days at the beginning of the school year, to bond and make friends without the use of electronics. Instead, they engage in activities like whittling together, swimming together, and hiking (a lot) together. They all go by homeroom, to avoid mass confusion. This article is going to describe the upsides and downsides of each annual camping trip, and choose which one is the best.
The sixth grade camping trip is the first real school trip that lasts more than a few days. The homerooms travel north, to Hickory Run State Park, a campground located in a dense wood in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Each person gets assigned to a lodge, along with some bunkmates, which can range from one to twenty. The lodges are just that, lodges. They are literal small log-cabins, with one big room, two beds, and two closets. The beds don’t really contain a mattress, or anything besides wood, so whoever brought a sleeping bag will be comfier than not. There are screen windows, and a porch outside. There is no electricity, so the more flashlights, the better.
The lodgings don’t have running water, so the nearest bathroom is a short walk away. That doesn’t have electricity, either, but it has running water and gas lamps, a good place to gather. Naturally, since woods often contain bears, the food is stored in a kitchen, which DOES have power, in order to cook. The kitchen is connected to a large mess-hall, which has a fireplace and rustic furniture. At Hickory Run, the 6th graders cook their own food, which can range from nauseating to delicious. The activities mostly are hiking to beautiful places like the Boulder Field, journaling in scenic places in the woods, the infamous stream hike and waterfall and the best part is; you’re allowed to bring a camera to bring home some new desktop wallpapers!
The next year, students go to Camp Mason, which the supplies list says is “located north of the Delaware Water Gap in rural Warren County, near the Appalachian Trail.”
It is also located in a woods, but is more populated. The cabins are much, much different than Hickory Run. There are about 30 kids to a cabin, split into two parts. Each person gets a part of a bunk bed, and there is a small common room in between the sides of the cabin. The cabins have working lights, electricity, and indoor bathrooms, as well as central heating and cooling. The lodgings are all divided up, girls on one side of a road, boys on the other.The food is stored in a mess hall, as well, but it is already prepared for students, but some are disappointed at the lack of quality and abundance of neon colored drinks.
The activities range from canoeing, to rock climbing, high ropes, giant swing, team building to good old-fashioned hiking. At night there is a bonfire with smores and journaling by flashlight.
The 8th grade camping trip is held in June as a culmination of the Middle School experience and I am hoping that the best is still to come.
~Photos by Jessa Agner and Will Terry