An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Olivia I. ’22

Pictured: Olivia (L) and Nila D. '21 (R)

My sister and I have this ongoing (mostly light-hearted) feud over who is funnier in the family, by which I mean that my sister teases me about my lack of humor on a pretty much daily basis. Considering how many times I reused the same two jokes leading up to my outdoor trip about only going so I could graduate Lakeside, I’m beginning to think she might have a point. All joking aside, however, being a part of the Eastern Washington backpacking trip was something I was really genuinely looking forward to. 

I have had a little bit of experience backpacking, so the thought of spending a week in the outdoors with no showers, hypothetical bears, and ramen bombs (think a mix of excessive cheese, freeze-dried mashed potatoes, and ramen packets) was slightly less intimidating for me than for some of my peers. While I was very excited to be on the trip, my fears lay more in being what Greta aptly dubbed our situation as we gathered on packing day: being guinea pigs. This was the Outdoor Program’s first foray into the wild during a pandemic and all of us, our leaders included, had no idea what to expect. Not only was it the first outdoor trip for many of us, we had a whole list of newly-created restrictions to ensure our health and safety that only compounded the uncertainty we all had going in. 

However, my fears were greatly unfounded. Yes, I hadn’t been in a larger group of non-family members in over a year, but that previous lack of connection only furthered the incredible bond my group formed on our trip. Yes, we had to wear masks most of the time, but I honestly forgot about mine as I was busy taking in the beautiful views of Ancient Lakes and Lake Chelan. Of course, we faced more physical challenges too: we braved thirty mile an hour winds the first night, I got some bad blisters from my hiking boots, and a whole pot of scrambled eggs unfortunately found a new home in the dirt of one of our campsites. And yet, I would still consider my trip to be a resounding success.

My eyes were able to recover due to a blissful lack of computer screens and I found myself more aware of and engaged with the people and nature around me. We learned that outdoor trips during a pandemic are possible and equally, if not more, rewarding. The amount of inside jokes my group developed was kind of ridiculous, my favorite of which revolved around one of our group members being the newest Disney princess after a deer took a pinecone from her hand. My trip leaders (shoutout to Greta and Zach!) reinspired me to seek out opportunities to further explore the beautiful Pacific Northwest. The weather was stunning with clear skies and warm weather the whole trip, sans the windstorm on night one. And, most importantly, my trip acted as a vessel through which we could experience perseverance, learning, and community, all of which are valuable lessons and core tenets of Lakeside’s Outdoor Program.