School Year Begins With Return of Cross Country and Senior Trips

The senior trip’s ropes course. Photos by Reid Alexander.

The cross country and senior trips were both able to resume last month after they were canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19. Students had the opportunity to bond with one another throughout the trips after a socially challenging year.

The cross country trip left for Camp Manidokan in Knoxville, Maryland, on Monday, Aug. 23, and lasted four days, returning to GDS on Friday, Aug. 27. After heading home on Friday afternoon, senior cross country runners had little time to recover after they came back before departing for the three-day senior trip that went from Saturday, the next day, to Tuesday at Sandy Hill Camp in Cecil County, Maryland. 

“There was a 24-hour break between the trips, and I basically had to just do laundry and repack everything,” senior Caroline Antonipillai, who went on both trips, said. 

Because the trips were occurring at the outset of the school year, they served as a source of bonding among GDS students. When members of the cross country team were not running, they participated in activities to help them grow as a team, including camp Olympics, group competitions that incorporated events from the 2020 Summer Olympics, such as a swimming relay, shot put throw and rhythmic gymnastics, into a series of inter-team activities. 

Upperclassmen, many of whom had gone on the trip in previous years, were able to show off their customs, including a campfire and team meetings, to the underclassmen who had not gone on the trip before. 

“As an underclassman who had never been on the trip before, I definitely felt a little awkward and didn’t know if I should talk to the upperclassmen,” said sophomore Ellie Kessler, “but it was great all of the upperclassmen were nice and excited for us to be there.”

Throughout the cross country trip, runners trained vigorously to prepare for their upcoming season. According to high school cross country coach Anthony Belber, the highlights were the team runs twice a day. One was at 7 a.m. and the other was at 3:30 p.m. The runs were advantageous for the team because they both helped the runners get into shape, and they brought the team closer together as a whole, putting the team in the right mindset for the season after more than a year apart. 

The camps that hosted the trips shared the school’s enthusiasm. 

“They are desperate for business because they got hit so hard last year, so they were very accommodating,” said Assistant Principal for School Life Quinn Killy, who attended the senior trip. 

The senior trip served as an opportunity for students to get to know each other better as well. Seniors had the opportunity to climb on a rock wall, do ropes courses, canoe and participate in nighttime events, including small group conversations and s’more roasting.

“The highlights of the trip for me were the nighttime activities,” Antonipillai said. “The third night was fun because we had free time, so I just walked around the area talking with a friend.”

“It was comparable to what the trip is every time,” Killy said of the senior trip. “It’s about bonding, talking about what kind of senior class [the seniors] want to be, and having fun!” 

Similarly, Belber acknowledged that the 2020 cancellation had not changed the cross country trip. “If anything,” he said, “there was more joy that we were in a space with one another, after a year and a half of very limited interaction with peers.”