Each fall, Hill School teachers and Earth Treks instructors challenge the school’s 8th graders to push themselves and draw closer as a class over a fun and intense two day rock climbing trip. The trip, which involves an overnight campout with opportunities for story and song, encourages both novice and more experienced climbers to discover what they are capable of accomplishing. Hill’s senior students learn to take responsibility and assume leadership as they belay each other and instruct and advise their classmates.

Many students find this trip one of their most meaningful 8th grade experiences, an event that builds trust as well as confidence. According to Jack Bowers, lead 8th grade homeroom teacher, the emphasis for the past two years has been “pushing beyond the comfort zone,” wherever that may be. “For some people, that might be getting ten feet above ground, and we celebrate that accomplishment as much as scaling a very difficult climb,” says Mr. Bowers. “The point is for each student to experience a personal best.” For students beginning a rich and demanding year, including the 8th grade play and an ambitious academic curriculum, the rock climbing trip sets the positive tone.