Inaugural Sophomore Trek is one for the books 

Teamwork, leadership and laughter – this is how the Class of 2017 described the first Norfolk Collegiate Sophomore Trek. Though the voyage only physically took them to the YMCA Camp Arrowhead in Suffolk, the memories that they made surpassed the short distance of the trek itself.

This past Monday, members of the sophomore class spent the day participating in exercises meant to not only strengthen the bond of the class, but also reinforce leadership and teamwork skills.

“The idea of going off campus with the students changes the context in which they engage with each other,” said Nicole Weyer, the Upper School Dean of Students. “It builds a community, fosters relationships and levels the playing field for both our new and returning students.” Weyer was the force behind the trek, which is something she hopes will continue into the upcoming years.  

“Not only does this experience help to solidify the transition to the Upper School, but we hope it will help to create a class and grade identity within Norfolk Collegiate,” she continued. “Having this helps to achieve that identity for the class.”

While at Camp Arrowhead, the students worked together in smaller teams to accomplish several tasks, including making it through the minefield, surviving gaga ball, conquering the tower, crossing the three platforms and outwitting the spider web. All of these challenges required that the students work together to overcome the obstacle as a team. 

“We had people who would come up with an idea and then we would try it out,” said Maria Leondaridis of the challenges. “If it didn’t work, we’d try another idea. 

Her classmate Hunter Kahler agreed. “We worked together really well with people stepping up and leading when needed.”

In the challenge of "minefield," students were blindfolded and tasked with dodging grounded obstacles with the verbal guidance of their teammates. In "gaga ball," which was the favorite of the students surveyed, students were in a walled, rounded pit and had to avoid making contact with a ball.

Though the students missed the overnight experience that the Freshman Retreat provided them last year, they did enjoy the less hectic pace of the one-day event. “It was more laid back,” said Hunter. “It allowed us to get to know a lot of people better,” chimed in Maria. “We did that last year, but this year we were able to bond more since we’ve spent a year with most of our classmates.”

Students were able to tackle the tower as well. Though an individual activity, the 55-foot tower was an opportunity for the students to cheer on their classmates. “My group was really good with encouragement, especially at the tower,” said Abby Wright.

For international student Daniel Duan, it was an opportunity to challenge himself with something that he’d never dreamed of doing. “I climbed to the top. It was about four stories high,” he said. “When I got to the top and they said I would have to jump to get down, I thought it was suicide, but I’m glad that I did it.”
“It was really fun and we bonded a lot,” said Abby. And “we made a lot of memories,” added Maria.