Proctor Graduate Reflects on Mountain Classroom Experience

Ponders four-year experience

By Scott Allenby

 Proctor Academy’s Mountain Classroom program is quickly approaching its 50th anniversary of immersing high school students in a term-long adventure in the American southwest. Springfield, New Hampshire resident and four-year senior Camden Fletcher ‘21 reflects on his experience on a three-day solo in the desert this spring:

“The nerves passed as we pulled into a barren lot at Wire Grass Canyon that housed only dry clumps of sand and loose rocks. Surrounded by wind-eroded mountains and cliffs of sandstone, we stepped into the unknown …

“When the time came for me to diverge from the group, I climbed into my spot, enclosed in a plane of gravel and stone. I chose a nice wind- and river-formed cave as my new solo home, providing excellent shielding from the sun’s unforgiving inferno. 

“My humble homestead consisted of a one-person Crazy Creek brand tarp that we all independently set up between our two hiking poles using a few knots we learned along the way: the clove hitch and the slip knot. All of which was surrounded by towering canyon walls, some 100 to 120 feet or so. 

“After pitching my tarp, I ate my lunch of Oreo cookies and granola bars while enjoying my new base. Tasty!

“After the first night alone in a canyon, I awoke to the sounds of what seemed to be the honking of what the group predicts was a raven … Dreams of back home flooded the mind with the occasional mountain group dream warped in between playings of fishing with my friend and camping amongst the night stars at my pond. 

“As I sat upon the rocks in solitude, I thought of my Proctor experience and how far I have come. I thought of what seemed like only yesterday. I was a freshman, as curious about my future as I was nervous about starting a new school. I thought about all the amazing classes I was fortunate to take, like AP Computer Science, Engineering, Wood Shop, and the Forge. I pondered about all the other classes I wish I could still take, like Studio Art or Photography. 

“I thought about my friends and all of the shenanigans we got into.… I remembered Orientation, getting absolutely soaked when it poured and having a blast. 

“I then thought about just the other night, when rain covered the sky and filled our tarps with puddles. This made me think about time, how fast it seemed to fly by; how little of it we truly have. 

“I came to realize that every passing second is an opportunity to better oneself, to evolve. That every second is more precious than gold and that we should cherish it, the good and the hard. For when we look back on it, these moments we are experiencing now may in fact be the best moments of our lives. They may be in the end what defines us.