By Sayler Tatom LPHS Freshman

I thought the expedition was going to be all about learning, but that was not the main thing I took away from it. Putting all of the ninth and tenth graders in a confined area with no cell service made us expand from our groups and talk to everyone there. Although we did learn a lot, the expedition was also a group bonding trip.

For the ninth graders, the last time we were together like this was our eighth grade trip to Washington, D.C. – except we weren’t in nice hotels this time, we were in tents.

The first day was all about getting set up and getting comfortable with our surroundings. When we got to Swan Creek, we jumped off the bus and worked as a team to unload the bus. Everyone helped put up the tents, with the experienced helping the inexperienced. Next, we headed off on our first hike. It was real quick, but we got to see the beginning of our surroundings.

The second day we awoke to Mrs. Hegness’s voice cheerfully yelling through the campground. It was freezing, so we bundled up in all the clothes we had on the trip and huddled like penguins during breakfast.

Talking during our morning hike, I’m surprised how many things I learned about my peers. Not having cell phone service forced us to talk. It’s not like we don’t already talk, but this was different. This was the real us – no makeup, no fancy clothes. There was nothing to distract us from who we really are.

After a lesson on safety in the wilderness, we headed home, still talking. Back at camp, we had a challenge from the teachers. They put us in separate groups and said we had to make a boat with the things we had at the campsite, using nothing man-made. The winners got to eat dinner first. My teammates worked with one another, collecting twigs and grass to tie the twigs together. I worked with some people I usually don’t work with, and we won the prize. It definitely made us bond.

The third day we got up and got going quickly. Our hike that day wasn’t really a hike. Instead, we put on gloves and picked up trash all along the road to Swan Creek. A lot of people picked up a lot of trash, and there was no ‘ewwwwww, I’m not touching that.’ Since we hadn’t showered in three days, we felt as gross as the trash, so we didn’t really mind.

I thought it was really cool working together to clean our environment, because I love living here. The fresh air and the wilderness is something we need to protect. It was cool to watch the whole class working together to protect where we live.

Looking back now, you can tell the activities we did those three days were more than that. We came together as a high school. D.C. was all about that too: Going as a class and learning about something more than just our little town. Back in Texas, I was at a big school where you didn’t have opportunities like this to bond with your peers. The expedition is a memory I will never forget.