Nurturing Nature

By Victoria G. ’17 with Michael Schwartz ’98
Photographs by Chandler S. ’17

 

Last week, the eighth grade headed to the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay for three days at Echo Hill. Our trip taught us that every one of us is part of a larger whole, and what we do makes a difference not just for ourselves, but for the people around us and the environment.

The instructors drove this idea home at every meal, where we worked in teams toward zero S.L.O.P (“Stuff Left On Plates”). If one person left food on her plate, the entire group would fail. We later learned that S.L.O.P also stands for “Stuff Left On Planet.” This applies the same principle of responsibility and conservation on a much larger scale, meaning that what one person wastes affects the entire planet. This concept was reinforced in team-building and individual challenges, like the Alpine Tower.

 

We wore harnesses, but our classmates were belaying us. Our lives were literally in each other’s hands as we jumped through the air 30 feet off the ground in the tower’s network of poles, ropes, ladders and cargo nets. This was physically demanding, but the real challenge was mental. The idea was to push through the fear, trust your teammates and take that actual leap of faith to reach the goal. Chandler S. battled the tower for at least 40 minutes, losing both shoes along the way, but she persevered and eventually pulled herself to the top.

We also learned about people’s influence on the Chesapeake Bay, as well as its ecological importance. Because the bay plays such a vital role for so much marine life, continuing to pollute it won’t just harm fish in the Chesapeake, but will disrupt the food chain in every ocean in the world.

Every single one of us has the opportunity and responsibility to positively influence a larger group, even a group as large as the earth.