COVID Highlights Importance of Civ Ed Field Trip

Daniel Rublin

Almost every SHS student remembers their middle school house counselor giving a speech about the difference between freshman seminar and Civ Ed. Many kids were convinced to choose Civ Ed by a single factor: the Civ Ed overnight trip. “I vividly remember choosing Civ Ed in part because of how fun the overnight sounded, and only later did I learn what Civ Ed was really about,” said TBW Civ Ed Advisor Ryan Nicholl ’23.

But what is Civ Ed really about? Nicholl explained that the main goal of Civ Ed is to help freshmen transition seamlessly to high school. “The general goal for Civ Ed is to get the freshmen acclimated to high school, help them make new friendships beyond the people who they may have already been friends with in middle school, and form new relationships with older kids and the freshmen in their own Dean and beyond their Dean,” explained Nicholl. In essence, Civ Ed is all about bonding and creating a stronger sense of community. “Civ Ed is a great way to bond with your peers, whether you are a freshman or an advisor,” said Hiller advisory Ellie Bowen ’23. Nicholl and Bowen both said that the overnight trip is one of the main events that help freshmen to transition to SHS in a fun and flawless manner. 

To Nicholl, Civ Ed overnight trip is the most important Civ Ed event of the school year. This year, the Civ Ed overnight could not occur due to COVID, but a non-overnight version was allowed to happen. “We didn’t get the full experience this year, but we had a very successful non-overnight version of the trip,” stated Nicholl. “We went to Rock Hill Camp in Mahopac where we did different activities all day,” she explained. Through problem solving games, trust falls, and trust walks, the group grew closer as a unit.  “You’re probably like five feet in the air when you fall… A lot of kids don’t want to do it in the beginning. I didn’t want to do it freshman year in the beginning,” stated Nicholl. But once someone finds the courage to trust the group and fall, they connect more deeply with their peers. “Once you do it, and if [the group] succeed[s] in catching you… that feeling of knowing that other people have your back [is] really, really good,” explained Nicholl.

As a whole, Nicholl believes the trip can vastly improve a freshman’s experience. “The trip can really make you closer with your classmates… We just had a meeting this past week and a lot of freshmen are saying they know a lot of new kids from the overnight, they’re not afraid to speak in class anymore… it brings people out of their shell… it’s just awesome,” stated Nicholl.

Nicholl explained that he believes the actual act of sleeping overnight was truly missed this year. “[The time you spend sleeping at the reserve is] the closest you get with your friends and the advisors and even the teachers… I think if you asked other advisors, they all would agree that sleeping over there is arguably the best part of it,” said Nicholl. Nicholl explained that waking up and seeing the tired students and teachers is a bonding experience like no other. “[Sleeping there] was one of the more fun parts of the trip for my freshman year. It sucks that this year they didn’t get that. If the school could [allow a Civ Ed overnight] in the spring, they should,” stated Nicholl.

While it is unfortunate that Nicholl’s advisory could not have the full overnight experience, the Hiller advisory’s trip was postponed altogether. “The trip got postponed because COVID cases are rising rapidly,” stated Bowen. “It got postponed to around New Year’s, but we’re all bummed because we were looking forward to going on the trip now,” she added. For now, Civ Ed advisories must attempt to achieve their goals of acclimating freshmen to high school without the full overnight trip experience.