Many people may already have trouble remembering what they were doing on Jan. 5 to 8, but Richard Cooper and 28 other Arlington High School juniors and seniors may never forget. The students spent the time testing newly acquired outdoors skills — and their courage and fortitude — on a solo wilderness survival experience that was the culmination of a semester-long course at their school.
Here, Cooper sits near the shelter he built in Townsend State Forest in north central Massachusetts. Next
The students met twice a week starting in November, received training in basic winter survival skills, such as fire and structure building, and practiced what they learned in the town’s Menotomy Rocks Park.
Pictured: Robert Harrelson, an Arlington High School senior, sits atop the shelter he built. Next
For their mandatory final exam, the students were taken to the forest in Townsend and given a 10-square-foot sheet of plastic, a cold-weather sleeping bag, six matches, and two bags of food. They were ushered to a 2-acre area, where they were required to stay alone for four days and three nights.
Here, Jacob Ballin, crouches near the shelter he built. Next
Each student also brought string, a whistle, a trowel, a survival knife, a candle, a pen and journal. They were not allowed any electronic devices, even wristwatches or flashlights, because the electronics could detract from the wilderness experience.
Pictured Astrid Adams, an Arlington High School student, crouches near the shelter she built. Next
The point of the program is "to build personal character, integrity, self-esteem, challenge—all the more valuable but less measurable things they can get out of high school," said Bob Tremblay (pictured,) who taught the class.
Tremblay believes in the only such course offered by a Massachusetts public school. Next
Molly Rookwood, an Arlington High School student, stands near the shelter she built. Back to the beginning
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