Insight: 2021 EBC Week

By Paul Hagen, Director of Student Well-Being

Twelve years ago, during my very first year at EPS, I was assigned to join the 5th graders on their “Spring Adventure” at Camp Orkila on Orcas Island. The activities were planned, the buses were loaded with kids and duffel bags, and off we went to catch the early morning ferry. I am sure I was just as excited and nervous as the students.

The activities at camp were the typical fare. Archery, canoeing, art, hiking and marshmallows over a campfire. The students played games, sang camp songs, and laughed a lot. They learned a lot too. It was an intense week, one that was full of hands-on, experiential education and the lessons learned would stick with the students (and their teachers) for years to come. Even than it really was so much more than just an “Adventure Week” it was a week of Education Beyond the Classroom.
Years later, on the day of those 5th graders’ graduation, a small group of them gathered around me and one of them asked, “Do you remember Orkila, Mr. Hagen?” And soon we were all swapping stories, sharing the lessons we had learned, and laughing a lot.

EBC Week provides a special opportunity for students to try something new or to pursue an area of interest more intensely. It affords students the chance to build deeper connections with classmates and teachers, to explore, grow, and learn. And EBC Week is always a meaningful and memorable part of an EPS education.

Nevertheless, every year at about this time, I begin to wonder if it’s really worth it. It is a big project, and a lot goes into a successful EBC Week. It is truly an all-hands-on-deck moment, with faculty and staff helping to plan and chaperone trips. There are logistics to coordinate, emergency plans to review, forms to collect, and hundreds of emails to send and read. But each year I also remember those bright-eyed 5th graders of that first year. I remember their enthusiasm and joy for learning. And when I remember, I know it’s all worth it.

This year, EBC Week will be a little different. Many of our EBC Week projects are fully remote. Students will be wearing masks and staying socially distanced. Air travel is out. Bus travel is limited. Students will remain closer to campus, and many activities that we’ve taken for granted in the past are simply not possible. But some things haven’t changed. Just as in years past, faculty have planned exceptionally unique opportunities for students to discover and learn. Like past EBC Weeks, students will be challenged and inspired as they engage in meaningful projects. Students will not only be working with a committed group of faculty but also with guest experts, artists, scholars, storytellers, coaches, performers, and guides who will help bring the world beyond the classroom into each experience.

Here’s wishing everyone an inspiring EBC Week!