Was Week Without Walls Useful?

Week Without Walls was held this year for the third time at UNIS Tutorial House. It started on Wednesday, September 18th and ended on Friday, September 20th. While T4 students stayed at UNIS working on final projects, T1 through T3 students were able to go to camp. T1 students spent three days at Camp Mariah in Fishkill, N.Y. T2s camped and paddled along the Delaware River and T3s stayed at Club Getaway in Kent, Conn. The weather during Week Without Walls was nice in the day, with an autumn sun that radiated on students’ faces, some even getting sunburnt on the canoeing trip! At night, it cooled down so that putting on a sweatshirt, wearing flip flops with long wool socks, or gathering around the bonfire sitting tightly next to each other felt nice and cozy. Though the trips were short, the 48 hours that were spent away from home and school were meant for students to step out of their comfort zone and build new friendships. Was this achieved?

Overall, students thought that Week Without Walls had been fun. Some said that it was too short, while others agreed that it was long enough for it to be restful. In general, the overview of the trips was positive. Some of the students’ favourite parts of the trip were spending more time with friends, canoeing as a team, gathering around the fireplace, having free time, and admiring the fall scenery. There were different activities for each grade, such as a high ropes course for the T1s and T3s, and a night hike for the T1s, in which they explored nature at night time, using their five senses in the dark. This activity was supposed to be done during the T2 trip as well, but was unfortunately cancelled. Lastly, the bonfire seemed to be liked by all, because students do not have the opportunity to make s’mores and warm up by a natural fire that often.

However, Week Without Walls was not only meant for the purpose of being with friends and having fun, but also for students to step out of their comfort zone and talk to other people. This way, each grade could bond and create more of a community. Students didn’t always agree that this was achieved, but some said that by sitting in coed tables during meal times, sharing cabins or tents with people that they didn’t always know and being in an activity group with different people helped them to make new friends.

Weeks after the trips, students still remember special anecdotes that occurred during these intense three days. Some examples are when a student forgot to fill their water bottle and started drinking from the Delaware River because they claimed “it looked clear enough,” or when a teacher got mad at some students because they were laughing too hard in their tent at night. Even at the dinner tables laughs and smiles were found on many students’ faces.

Not all opinions are the same on Week Without Walls, but most agreed that it should continue at UNIS. However, they provided some improvements that could be considered for next year. T1 students said that overall the cabin conditions and the food at Camp Mariah were not great, while the activities were fine. T2 students said that it had been a very successful trip with not many suggestions to be made, and T3 students were saddened that it was their last year of being able to live this experience, suggesting an overnight excursion in T4. Some students also suggested that instead of three days, Week Without Walls could last a whole week, with Monday and Tuesday to do activities at school and the other three days to go to camp.

The main goal of students stepping out of their comfort zone and making new friends was generally achieved and the trip was quite useful. Week Without Walls should continue to be a part of the UNIS Tutorial House!