Eighth Grade Bonds Over S’mores, Skits, and Salty Tears

Maria G.

Charlene W. ‘24, Eva K. ‘24, Gio K. ‘24, Olivia C. ‘24 and Alyssa X. ‘24, having fun on Catalina Island

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November 18, 2019

Four days on Catalina Island stranded from technology and home proved to be the perfect thing to help this year’s eighth-grade class bond. For many eighth-graders, this would be the first time without smartphones and computers all year.

The absence of technology also allowed students to time to bond and talk face-to-face. Ivy A. ‘24 said she was looking forward to “hanging out” with her friends. And hang out they did.  On the boat ride over, students leaned on each other’s shoulders and shared delicious snacks. During long hikes, they had to be patient and wait for everyone to catch up, which helped students learn teamwork. During water activities, students had to trust their peers and the naturalists in order to stay safe.

But the trip wasn’t all goldfish and sparkling waves. There were also moments of emotion and many, many tears. Stranded from home, emotions were bound to escalate. From home-sick nights to forgetting a favorite pillow or an uncomfortable friend situation, a million things could send a student spinning into a chasm of emotions.

Rachel K. ‘24, generous with emotional advice, calmed escalating situations all while staying calm herself. It turns out she wasn’t as calm as she seemed. She said she was actually really nervous. She just felt like she had to help. “I wouldn’t say I’m the best person,” she said, referring to whether she was best suited for this job.

Rachel K. ‘24 defined her experience helping people as “scary” and added that it was hard to see people she cared about so vulnerable. She was also able to appreciate the experience because it sparked a deeper connection with her friends, a connection that can only come from seeing each other “near our worsts.”

The last morning on the island, students scrambled to pack up and then in turn scrambled to get on the boat, only then settling down to reflect on the time on Catalina. Dahlia V. ’24 reflected, “I liked that [Catalina] pushed me to do things I normally wouldn't do.” For some people this was trying a new activity, and for some it was being able to be vulnerable around friends.