Semester 31: Third Expedition and Making the Most of Our Time Here

Sorry it’s taken us so long to get this written for you!  We had a slow time returning to campus from our last expedition since it was so snowy in Leadville.  Seeing as we were a bit delayed, we focused on de-issuing efficiently so we could pack ourselves up for Thanksgiving break!  Now that we’ve returned to campus, we’d love to give you updates about our amazing final expeditions and this last week here on campus.

Our final expedition was a bit different than our other two in that this expedition was organized and executed primarily by student expedition leaders!  We nominated these leaders from our student body, and they had the responsibility of organizing expedition groups, managing our gear issue days, assigning leaders-of-the-day, and working with the faculty to design and execute a meaningful and successful expedition.

We had a very fun road trip down to Utah, where we had our first experience with the red dirt and slick rock we came to love on our expeditions.  After our first few days of learning about risk management in the canyons, all of the student groups were able to earn independent student travel opportunities.  This means that we got to travel and camp without faculty (they checked in on us and made sure we were in the right place at the right time, but traveled and camped separately).  Each of the expedition groups had different routes with different challenges.  Some of us had a long day traveling across a skinny bench above the San Juan River, others had long rappels off of big pour-offs, and all of us spent time scrambling over boulders and camping below towering canyon walls!

There was a quick turnaround after expedition and we headed home for Thanksgiving break.  But we’re back now, and  this past week on campus has been full of classes, fun, and lots of wintry weather!  After returning from Thanksgiving break, we were incredibly happy to see one another once again and continue our HMI adventure together.  Believe it or not, it felt great to be back in the classroom, taking risks, and learning all about the world around us.  New units were introduced in most classes.  The science unit studying how humans survive in cold weather environments was especially pertinent given the seriously low temps in Leadville!

Luckily, with the cold has come snow!  Students, faculty, and apprentices took a day to ski at our local ski hill—Ski Cooper.  For a number of students, it was our first time skiing!  The snow and winter activities have put us in the holiday spirit, and we’ve been baking cookies, making cards, and cross-country skiing to chop down Danny’s Christmas tree.

Last Saturday night, we had our second Coffeehouse event of the year.  It was a night filled with laughter, singing, dancing, and hilarious skits (including Matt Turnbull in a long blond wig and students acting as Ph.D.s all while dishing out relationship advice!). It was a great event that reminded us to really take advantage of our short time left.

That short time left has been one of the main topics of conversation over the past week.  We’ve focused in on the “Going Home Series” during community, advisory, and cabin meetings.  We’ve been thinking a lot about the following topics:

1)  Don’t go home yet (meaning—we’re making the most of these weeks we have left!).
2)  Make the most of your time between semesters.  While some of us are quite tempted to catch up on all of the TV we missed, we actually shouldn’t just sit around on our couches all day.  We’re making plans to do something meaningful over winter break!
3)  Be thankful.  We took some time during one of our advisory meetings to write thank you letters to someone who helped make our experience at HMI possible—pretty cool!
4)  Choose you stories carefully.  We’re thinking about how we can effectively communicate what this place is about to people who don’t know it.
5)  Going home will be what you make it.  This one’s actually pretty cool, and it’s a good reminder to us that no matter where we are, we make our experience what it is.
6)  Transference of skills beyond HMI—one of the most important parts of this experience! If we don’t know what we’ve learned, we can’t take what we’ve learned back to our families, friends, and schools.  So we’ve spent time reflecting on and discussing the skills we’ve learned here, and we’ve developed strategies for taking them back to the world outside of HMI.

Right now, we’re headed off to clean out and pack up our cabins!  Wish us luck on this next step of our journey—returning home (yes, Mom and Dad, we know you’re really excited…)!

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