by Eric Niles, Head of School
Part of my Spring Break was spent deep in Death Valley camping with the logistics team resupplying our AWE (Athenian Wilderness Experience) groups. It was nothing short of a magical four days for me. My son, Cade, a Death Valley veteran from last year, is on the logistics team and my daughter, Hannah, a Death Valley participant in 2013, joined me for the trip. It was wonderful to share that experience with my own children and with about 30 of my other “kids” as they came into resupply. Their smiles were full and their eyes were beginning to show the clarity so visible at Run-In each year. They said their groups (I saw groups 1, 2, & 3) were great and asked me to tell their parents that they miss them and love them. Consider the message delivered.
I was already aware that AWE is so much more than a backpacking trip, that Jason and Phoebe, our AWE Directors, (and all their instructors) administer a well-conceived and tested curriculum to be sure that each student receives the educational outcomes (e.g. leadership, self-esteem, teamwork, resilience) so unique to this trip. What I got to see this time was the complicated logistics “dance” that makes sure our children have all the food and water they need for the journey. Just the car ride down the 32-mile dirt road to the logistics camp was enough to test my mettle. On top of that, the logistics team needs to get (and refill, and refill) the water that will later be dispersed, tend to any medical needs, and make sure all the food is sorted and ready to go. The “Logis” do it all and they do it with gusto.
I wasn’t sure I was a “desert person” but I am now. The expanse of the Racetrack (a dry ancient lake bed) towered over by Ubehebe Peak is just breathtaking. Dare I say, AWE inspiring. And, yes, it was the year of the “Super Bloom” of wildflowers. Think Wizard of Oz. Pictured here is me next to a Sailing Stone. Note the trail that marks its movement over the decades. Do a Google search to hear about these stones. It is worth your time.
Once again, I wrap up a year feeling blessed to be part of this community and helping to tend to this mission. Athenian is one of a kind. So are each of our kids. Happy spring.