Long Fall 2017

Last week, 22 Long Fall trips sprawled across New England. There were rugged treks, river floats, summit hikes, an ecological excursion to Acadia National Park and a few “glamping” trips featuring campfire cuisine straight out of Bon Appetit. What unifies these diverse experiences is that each provides an intimate context for students to connect with one another and spend rich time in the natural world. We aim to model the teamwork, communication skills, and reflective practices we hope will permeate the academic year. A couple years ago Emily reflected on why Long Fall remains at the core of our orientation, which is worth a (re)read.

It’s amazing how quickly the traces of Long Fall get swept away—of course, not without Herculean planning from adults and inspiring follow-through from students. Now that the tents are all dried, the canoes stowed and sleeping bags stuffed back in sacks, students have turned their attention to course work and navigating dense daily schedules. Still, many experiences of Long Fall linger and set the tone for our community.

This year, Dean of Students Michael Sardinas offered student and faculty leaders a new set of objectives for Long Fall.

  • To teach “leave no trace” practices and minimize our impact on the land
  • To practice responsibility as an individual and as a group
  • To practice feedback for the self and others

We adopted a framework called Situation-Behavior-Impact, SBI for short, which reinforces the power of regular feedback cycles. In this structure, a group comes together to share feedback in a specific format meant to clarify perceptions without the feedback being taken as personal. The person sharing feedback describes the context for some peer’s action (the situation), what her peer said or did (the behavior), and what positive effect it had (the impact). While the feedback sought in Long Fall SBI sessions was primarily positive, we hope it lay the foundation and some common language for giving and receiving feedback of all kinds.

In the rock climbing trip I led, the SBI sessions helped us reflect on the day’s trials and joys. It was nice to take a slow, collective moment before the nights gave way to campfire tomfoolery. I even think these thoughtful testimonies inspired positive actions and awareness the following day, which was wonderful to see.

Above is a slideshow of photos from Long Fall. While it was a wet one, the smiles seem to indicate Putney students made the most of their four days in the woods




I couldn't think of a better way to start a school year than spending 4 days indulging in the prolific biodiversity of New England's National Parks. Some of the world's most profound beauty is a lot closer to home than we might have thought. -Griffin ‘18



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