"I'm forever grateful that Mr. McGee founded TCS's outdoor education program, because the lessons we learned on the trips profoundly shaped and inspired me. I recall going rock climbing in Moab and thinking, 'I am dangling from a giant, vertical rock face and yet I am beaming with satisfaction. This is who I am and this is how I want to live my life!"
- Sarah Platt '14, the recipient of an Outward Bound leadership scholarship
As Middle Schoolers prepared to head out for their fall overnight Outdoor Education trips last week, it was both fun and timely to hear about Sarah Platt and her remarkable experience in Maine this summer. During her junior year at Choate Rosemary Hall, Sarah was selected by faculty members to receive the Hurricane Island Outward Bound Scholarship. Known as the HIOB Leadership Award, the honor meant she spent 22 days in and around Hurricane Island, Maine, camping, backpacking, sailing, rowing, and even living solo on an island. Sarah was joined by eight rising seniors from other schools, all of whom had been selected for their strong leadership skills.
Describing the experience, Sarah says she and her fellow HIOB participants "were challenged by persistent fog and long days of physical exertion (rowing or summiting numerous granite peaks)." Ten days into the expedition, each student completed a 48-hour solo in which "we camped alone on an island and reflected upon life, and our goals for the rest of course," she said. "I chose to fast during this solo to further challenge myself."
Sarah also completed a service project during the coastal sailing portion for a former Outward Bound instructor who needed chopped wood transported across his island. On the last day of the course, participants had to complete a Personal Challenge Event by running 2 to 6 miles. "I chose to run 10 miles, and afterwards I felt so exhilarated by the success I had at picking my own goal and accomplishing it," Sarah said.
She learned a lot by living and working with her peers. "We were certainly a diverse group— hailing from Texas, Washington, Colorado, Florida, New York and Brazil— and we were forced to accept one another and to work together despite our differences," she said. "Because of this, we became quite close. I absolutely loved living on the 30-foot sailboat, sleeping on top of oars, jumping into freezing water at 5:30 a.m., watching the sunrise on anchor watch duty, and navigating through thick fog using triangulation."
Like all Country School students, Sarah had extensive exposure to outdoor adventures when she was at TCS, starting with hikes around campus on the Blue Trail and activities on the campus Ropes Course and culminating with the 4-day canoe trip on the Delaware Water Gap (this year's 8th Graders just returned from their adventure) and the week-long Southwest Trip in Utah. All those lessons stay with her and continue to guide her.
"I'm forever grateful that Mr. McGee founded TCS's outdoor education program, because the lessons we learned on the trips profoundly shaped and inspired me," she told us. "I recall going rock climbing in Moab and thinking, 'I am dangling from a giant, vertical rock face and yet I am beaming with satisfaction. This is who I am and this is how I want to live my life!
"My passion for the outdoors has only grown stronger in years since. I'm now in my senior year at Choate, heading up Choate's Fishing Club and working to tie all of my academic and outdoorsy/artistic interests together with a senior Capstone Project."
We can't wait to hear more about her Capstone - and about everything else she does. Always a multi-talented multi-tasker, Sarah continues to explore many avenues. In fact, last summer she balanced her Hurricane Island adventure with work in Choate's Alumni Relations office, a trip to Norway and Sweden with Choate's Chamber Chorus, and a visit with family in Nova Scotia. Have a great senior year, Sarah! We are excited to see where your travels take you next.
For photos of Country School Middle School students on their recent outdoor trips, click here.