Senior Class Trip to Hermit Island 2016  | By Rio Gipple and Erin Ellinwood

Our senior year started out on an island on the coast of Maine, with many other Waldorf seniors from across the country. For seven days, we camped and studied on Hermit Island—our classroom was the ocean and we learned so much. Every morning we walked through the beautiful forest to the Kelp Shed, which served as our only indoor classroom. Along with the classes from the other Waldorf schools, we had full days of exploration, both academic and social, inside and out of doors.

The days started with a morning lesson, each one presented by teachers from a different school. We would learn about a new phylum of animals every day, including seeing the creature in real life in front of you. We went from talking about the animals to having direct experiences of the animals. This immediate interaction solidified the information better than anything else could have. We shared our tables with snails and lobsters alike. After our morning lesson was done, we split off into groups consisting of a combination of students from every school. Depending on the day, we would paint the sea, have a dune ecology lesson, write some poetry, or investigate in the microscope lab. Each one of these classes brought a different perspective to the multidimensional ocean we were surrounded by.

After those experiences, we would go have lunch at our campsite with the rest of our class, and then we would head back off to meet with our group to go explore the tide pools. The tide pools on Hermit Island are teeming with life: we saw crabs, snails, tunicates, lobsters, and much more. Being at the tide pools was both academically interesting and socially informative. We were able to talk to our fellow Waldorf seniors who had shared this same wonderful and unique education. This resulted in an amazing sense of community among everyone. After all the organized lessons were done for the day, our class would go swim in the ocean. For us Colorado kids, being by the ocean was a real treat and we took full advantage of it. This was also a time to show off our volleyball skills in competitive games on the beach against other schools.

In total, the combination of art, science, and experiential learning was captivating and an experience we will not forget. We learned so much about marine animals, the environment, and Waldorf education. Our class came away from the trip feeling a great sense of gratitude towards the school, the island, our fellow Waldorf students, and each other. There was no better way to start out our last year together. Thank you.