12th Grade Project Week – Senior Solos 2012

Location: Vedawoo, Wyoming

Description: The 12th grade spent project week participating in the Senior Solos in Vedawoo, Wyoming. The class worked with The Women’s Wilderness Institute to organize this trip, and chose Vedawoo because of the quiet and isolated location that was not too far away. Students have the option to fast during the two day solo, and return as a group to discuss the process and enjoy a meal together.

Why do students participate in Senior Solos?

  • The pedagogical impulse is to address the thematic question for 12th graders of, “Who am I?”
  • Introspection and isolation
  • It allows students time away from others, home, media and allows the opportunity to be alone with one’s thoughts
  • In the world today it is challenging to break away, even for an hour, from modern life; “Media fasting” is becoming a stronger element of this trip
  • It is a school tradition and shared experience

Below is an article  from a 12th grade student about his experience:

“We had been hearing about it for years, but it wasn’t until three weeks ago that my classmates and I in the senior class were finally able to experience the senior solo. It’s so well known in our school that it’s almost a legend; an adolescent is thrust into the wilderness for two days and two nights, alone and often without eating – if they so choose. As daunting as it sounds, I wasn’t nervous, and I got the sense that my fellow seniors weren’t either.

After a short goodbye ceremony, we set out to find our destination, what would be our homes for the next 48 hours. After some searching, I found the perfect location: a small flat spot in a rocky area, just large enough to set up my tarp. For the next two days, I spent more time simply thinking than I ever had before, sitting on a rock. I thought about everything from whether pineapples grow on trees or on the ground to the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody, which I sang in its entirety multiple times. There were some profound life thoughts interspersed in my mental adventures, but nothing groundbreaking, which didn’t bother me. Fasting contributed to the intensity of the experience, not because I was hungry, but because of how weak I felt after two days. On the third morning, I was glad to return to base camp and the hot meal that awaited me there.

 This was a great new experience for everyone in the class. There is nothing like watching the sun make its way across the sky all day long, rather than being stuck in a daily routine. Being alone for that amount of time was surprisingly enjoyable, and it was striking to me how long a day lasts when you’re not doing anything.”

Below is a description provided by Paula Blum, 12th grade Class Sponsor:

The 12th grade solo is a very special trip and totally different to the trips we have gone on before in the 9th, 10th and 11th grades. The goal is no longer bonding as a class, but rather getting to know oneself better. Through this rite of passage, each student has the time to reflect on his or her life.  As the students left base camp for their two-day solo, some looked determined, others apprehensive.  However, when we went to get them at the end of the solo, all their faces were radiant.  They had survived the two days, even in the rain!  This two-day solo is a wonderful experience for these young people to have.

Additional Details:

Class Sponsors: David Blair and Paula Blum
Trip: 5 days
Number of Students: 16
Mode of Transportation: One school bus and one school van