Fostering Community in the Great Outdoors

Submitted by Katherine Heffernan, Residential Assistant

To relax after a week of orientation, unpacking, and recovering from jet lag, new and returning boarders headed to Aloha Camp run by the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vermont. Students and residential staff packed their sleeping bags and bathing suits for a weekend of classic summer camp activities and community development.

on the lake

Taking place before Labor Day weekend, the camping trip is becoming a boarding tradition, with the trip to Vermont in its second year. Located on crystal-clear Lake Morey, Aloha Camp offers traditional camping atmosphere complete with tents, family-style meals, and campfires, as well as more modern amenities such as hot showers and electricity – in some buildings, that is!


For both new and returning boarders, however, the camping trip is always a learning process: each year, Hulbert staff promote a “Challenge by Choice” mentality by presenting students with new activities and games from which to choose during their stay.


Boating and rock wall climbing were some of the most popular activities among the students and residential staff, although many also grappled with a bow and arrow during archery.

archery 2

Others tried – and tied – their hands while making wire jewelry and friendship bracelets, which could be seen more on the wrists of RAs than of students. Nearly all campers and Hulbert staff cooled off in the lake for open swim before returning to team building in camp groups.

jewelery making better

For all its entertainment and leisure, the boarding trip served a larger purpose: to foster a sense of community, care, and engagement among students and residential staff. Throughout each day, students played icebreaker games and critical thinking challenges with Hulbert staff, interspersed with free choice activities and communal meals.

group shot edited ice breakers

These team building activities created camaraderie which carried into singalongs and s’mores around evening campfires.

team building activity

Peals of laughter rang out into the night as students raced against one another in egg tosses and partnered cereal eating competitions. Lit only by twilight and the occasional flashlight beam, the camp glowed with the exhaustion of a day in the summer sun, and the beginnings of a strong boarding community in the coming academic year.

roasting smores editedcereal eating contest edited