Monterey Bay Academy’s Senior Survival A Success
Monterey Bay Academy’s senior class got a taste of the wilderness September 5-9 on Senior Survival, a program geared towards teaching students important skills and providing them with a valuable class experience.
“The purpose of Senior Survival is to unify the class,” class sponsor and program coordinator David Lara said. “We wanted to start this program at MBA so we could bring this class together and strengthen them spiritually and to bring out the leadership that’s always been there.”
The leaders began to emerge right away as the group made it to Weimar College, which graciously allowed MBA to use their backwoods property for the program. Once on Weimar’s campus, the class of 69 students had to make a mile-long hike to their campsite. Students were each given a tarp, some string and small post to make their tents. Before very long the girls and boys camps were up and running and the students quickly learned which comforts they would be without for the weekend.
“It was hard,” Stuart Hollingsead, a senior from Berrien Springs, Michigan said. “We cooked our own food, built shelters, dug latrines and we had to bathe in a stream. It was fun though, because we came together as a class.”
Students were split up into groups of eight and each was assigned a counselor. Most counselors were MBA staff, but there were also some alumni and parents who volunteered. The seniors started off each day with worship focused on Ellen White’s The Great Controversy and how the study of end time events related to the survival skills they were learning. After worship the class split into three groups who followed a rotation of three different classes for the rest of the day. Students learned team building skills and the meaning of leadership during Initiatives, an active class that included group challenges like scaling a 10-foot wall and a six-foot high trust fall. The next class was Survival Skills, where they learned orienteering, how to build shelters, and how to collect water in the wilderness. The third rotation was Edible Plants and was taught by MBA’s biology teacher Sheldon Shultz. He showed students which plants could be eaten and how to prepare them as well as which plants were to be avoided.
“The classes were the best,” Selena Temper, a senior from Visalia said. “The teachers made them interesting and they always brought God into what we were learning.”
Each night the class would finish out their day with worship around the campfire. Towards the end of the weekend the complaints of sore backs and dirty socks began to give way to the sounds of whole hearted singing and a group thoroughly enjoying their time together. At the last campfire several students stood up and acknowledged classmates who had impressed them or reached out to them during the weekend.
“Song service was so much fun. I loved it,” senior Becca Raettig from Tujunga. “The last evening worship was especially nice because we really came together and supported each other.”
Now that the seniors are back in school, the class sponsors have had a chance to evaluate the effect of Senior Survival. So far, there have only been positives to report.
“Overall the class did very well and they’re continuing to do well,” Lara said. “We had an unreal number of students running for class office, our class meetings are running more smoothly then ever before and these students really want to work together.” Students in the class share the same sentiments about the Senior Survival program.
“We didn’t do anything halfway on this trip,” Tad Worku, a senior from St. Helena said. “We had to do everything and we had to learn how to do it together. During Senior Survival our class didn’t just come together for a weekend, we came together for the whole year.”