By Jessica Sun
Never before have I ever: dead-man dropped off a zip-line, used a compost and dirt outhouse, actually slept in a 20°F sleeping bag in 20°F weather or completed a life-sized ball and holes maze with a team. To say the LSI weekend was amazing would be one of the biggest understatements of all time. I came away from this with a new sense of who I am as a person and more confidence in how I fare in new environments. Having suffered through the awful cold and rainy weather with my peer Fellows, we have developed a sense of unity and I feel more at home than ever with them.
The first day started off with splitting into six different groups. I was in Group 5, and we started with a quick activity to see how fast we could get a ball through everyone’s hands. After much brainstorming and sharing puzzled looks as our counselor insisted that there was a faster way to do it, we figured out that we could make a tower with our hands, drop the ball straight down, and have someone catch it. However, this accomplishment almost dimmed next to the subsequent challenge: tilting a ball through a 4 ft. by 7 ft. (roughly) maze. The maze had large holes through it in the most annoying of places, which proved to be a much more challenging obstacle than any of us anticipated. After innumerable tries and failures, we were asked if we wanted to stop for the day. Of course, the answer was a resounding “No!”, and Group 5 persevered. Nothing was better than the sound of the round white plastic ball solidly hitting the end zone. Not even the rain could dampen our mood after that!
After more team-building activities including Islands and Balance See-Saw, we all settled down for lunch to get to know our Fellows. No one could suppress excitement for the highlight of the night: the Ropes Course! Team Learn and Team Serve split up, the first adventuring while the second did more team-building activities. The Ropes Course was absolutely magnificent, with six different challenging paths to get to the adrenaline of the zip-line. Three horizontal, three vertical… which were you up for? Personally, I chose the middle horizontal one: It consisted of a wire below to edge along on, and ropes hanging down to hold onto while you tried to reach for the next one. Some had trouble facing the heights, while others embraced them and looked down as much as they could. As a roller coaster enthusiast, you can be sure I was appreciating the heights! Even in the dark rain, the view of the creek some thirty to forty feet below was absolutely beautiful. Reaching the platform, I positioned myself at the edge. I leaned back and “dead-man dropped” off the ledge and was whisked down along the zip line, screaming and yelling in joy all the way! Needless to say, this contributed to one of the best experiences of my life.
Although the bonfire was cancelled due to the rain, several people still came out to chow down on some marshmallows, chocolates, and graham crackers. After that, at least for Cabin 1 in Lower Camp, it was straight to bed, with the sleeping bag zipped up tight. From the lower bunk in a cabin, I had no trouble falling asleep at all, and the rain provided a beautiful soundtrack to fall asleep to. Some brave students spent the night in the tents. Next morning, it was finally time to try out the dreaded compost and dirt outhouse. The idea was the same as a regular outhouse, except to cover the “business” with dirt. When the bucket was filled, it would eventually be emptied in a compost outhouse and the bucket would be washed and dried. Although many found this disgusting, I figured that whatever works, works. However, I was sure to use tons of hand sanitizer afterwards!
The next morning, LearnServe packed up and headed down for a hearty breakfast. We split up into Team Learn and Team Serve and were given real-life challenges to solve. These included planning a county sports fundraiser with four very differently populated schools and solving an energy crisis for Washington DC. Some members of Team Serve finished early and started their own casual games of Ninja and Charades. An absolutely amazing lunch was served, and we were off!
By Jessica Sun
I will never forget this weekend. I became better acquainted with many amazing people, and this has pumped me up so much for the LearnServe year. I can’t wait to start my venture and see how my own ideas can affect those around me (especially after hearing a camp counselor’s story about he got involved with Outdoor Education Camp). To sum it up in three words: genuinely life-changing.