Echo Hill 2018

Falling in the swamp. Kissing a fish. Watching the sun set over the bluff. Seeing shooting stars.

During the first week of October, Grade 5 students from Grace spent three days and two nights at Echo Hill Outdoor School, experiencing both the mundane (going to the privvies, sleeping in tents) and the sublime (the above-referenced shooting stars and sunsets, plus the famously delicious Echo Hill food). Mr. LaPietra and Ms. Danish had the privilege of accompanying them on the trip.

Echo Hill in the fall is a treasured Grace tradition — in fact, this is the 28th year that Grace students have enjoyed this wonderful experience! Part of the aim of the trip is to take our students out of their urban/suburban milieu and to let them experience the joys of nature, but it’s also a great chance for them to gain independence (by cleaning cabins and managing their own supplies), to push their physical boundaries (by boating, canoeing, and most of all trying out the “big swing”), and, for some children, to sleep away from home the first time. These moments of pushing through fear and trying something new can be transformative for older elementary school students — something that’s clear when you read our students’ reflections of what they learned about themselves:

  • I’m more afraid of spiders than I thought I was
  • I want to be a marine biologist
  • Even though I’m afraid of heights, it doesn’t have to hold me back
  • I’m not that scared of heights
  • I’m braver than I thought I was
  • I want to own a boat when I grow up
  • Can Jam is actually a fun game
  • If you want to do something, just do it — don’t look down!
  • I can eat a lot if I’m really hungry
  • Being away from home is less scary when you are with your buds!

Grade 5 students come back exhausted but happy, more unified as a group and more willing to try new things. This year, our teachers put together some awesome activities to extend the experience back at Grace, like a Grade 5-only cookout and a music session where students composed melodies and rhythms based on their time at Echo Hill.

Ask any Grade 5 student: Echo Hill Outdoor School is a magical place. But don’t just take our word for it! Check out the official Echo Hill video here on Vimeo.