October 21, 2014

MASON -- Mars Hill Academy seventh graders crawled through cave holes, rappelled down glacial cliffs, and learned to start a camp fire from a simple magnesium stick during the school’s annual Earth Science camping trip at John Bryan State Park, Yellow Springs this September. Grammar School principal Mr. James Waldy served up hobo stew to eighteen students, many of whom have been together at Mars Hill since Kindergarten. According to Anna Dudley of West Chester, the best part was sharing the experience with her classmates.

“This was my first campout, and I loved doing everything with my friends,” said Dudley. “I am afraid of heights so I was really nervous about rappelling, but everyone was so encouraging that I was able to do it.”

Waldy packed the weekend with lessons on astronomy, geology, and biology, but the camaraderie fostered among the students was invaluable.

“Students get to challenge themselves, and each other, pretty well when they spend two days without any real shelter or amenities, while sitting on the ground, dealing with the elements, and being perpetually dirty,” said Waldy. “Some of them have never camped out before, and it’s quite a challenging thing to back over a cliff trusting a rope to keep you from falling.”

Anna Kate Hicks of Cincinnati said her favorite part was star gazing and learning about the constellations. Josh Kuechly of Loveland found that being one of the smaller students in the class has its advantages. “I was the first to go all the way into the cave because it was really narrow,” reported Josh.

Photo: Mars Hill Academy student Anna Dudley of West Chester overcomes a fear of heights during the school's annual seventh grade campout at John Bryan State Park, Yellow Springs