8th Grade Vision Quest Challenge

Annual Coming of Age Activity, October 24-26, 2015
By Kathy Paczynski

Coming of age activities and rituals are common in many cultures, but not as much in the US. At Da Vinci Waldorf School, we celebrate the child’s development at all ages, and this is an important milestone: the beginning of the transition between childhood and adulthood. The Vision Quest is an outdoor experience that tests the students physically as well as mentally. Challenges are presented as a way to “put to test” the adolescent urge for independence under guidance of adult supporters. This wilderness weekend away from parents gives the students a chance to get out of their comfort zones and push them beyond their own expectations. Students find they can do much more than they think they can when they set out on the first day.

Eighth graders set out with trip leaders Kathy Paczynski and Brett Haller on a cloudy Saturday morning, October 24th. They arrived at Kettle Moraine State Forest in central Wisconsin to drizzling rain, but that DID NOT deter their spirits! They hiked 2.5 miles the first day, carrying all their belongings and supplies, and stopped to pitch camp. The girls created a sleeping structure out of tarps and ropes provided, but all other materials came from nature; they even carved their own stakes for the structure. The students learned and used camp craft skills including knot tying and fire building.

The group woke to a beautiful, sunny day on Sunday, cooked breakfast, and loaded up the packs for a 5.5 mile hike. They were blessed with unexpectedly beautiful weather with mild days and chilly nights. In spite of the hilly trail and heavy loads, the students completed the hikes in good time. They successfully lit a fire without matches. A highlight of the trip was watching the rising moon through the trees as they talked around the campfire in the evening. On this night, the students each built their own sleeping structure, away from the main camp. Some students were nervous about being alone, but had a great feeling of accomplishment when they realized all they had done on their own.

The Vision Quest was both difficult and enjoyable, making it more importantly, memorable.Img_1708

Morgan Branson
Morgan Branson
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