By Carter Krusz ’20 and Luke Stone ’20
- Not Being Allowed to Talk to Other Groups “Our Strong Band Shall Ne’er Be Broken…” except in Western Virginia. Woodberry is a brotherhood, but for four magical days during a boy’s sophomore year, his contact is entirely limited to eight other students and two group leaders. See a friend across the trail? Might as well be a stranger. Our general advice is to yell at him until he runs away. The only things that exists during your expedition are your backpack, your bowl, your dromedary (IYKYK), your tent, your stove covered in dried kerosene, and your group mates. Your fantasy team, your family, your friends, and other groups do not matter. All that matters is survival…and teambuilding…and leaving no trace…and definitely not talking to other groups.
- Close Quarters Combat The tents are small and the boys are large…that’s all we’re gonna say.
- The “Hiking” Group You’ve been walking all day. Uphill, downhill, across canyons, and through controlled burns at times. “Get ready for the view,” they say. Then you think, “I think I’ve seen this tree before.” And you have. But instead of taking the fifteen minute uphill trail to your destination, you’ve successfully circumnavigated the base camp on the same five mile trail three times today. Congratulations, Magellan. You’ve done it. Now enjoy the view for five minutes before you have to go back down the hill to find a campsite you’ve passed seven times today. What are other groups doing, you might ask? Ziplines, caving, repelling, kayaking, ropes course, and just about all of the cool stuff you heard about before coming. Sorry, bud, but this is the hiking group. We don’t do that here. But don’t worry, only two more hours until you get to the campsite!
- The Eagle Scout Kid At first, this is a bad thing because you will be hit with unnecessary facts about trees, trails, fording rivers, packing your backpack, and the type of blister you’re developing because the boots you borrowed from the school are two sizes too small. But come nighttime, you will never be setting up your own tent because you’re “doing it wrong.” Worried about your campfire? He will refuse to use the kerosene or steel wool because it’s “cheating” and instead forage deep into the woods for the only dry sticks he can find that he will then rub together for thirty minutes before the first spark, and for another hour after that. But beware. Just because this kid claims he can take care of your paper cut doesn’t mean he won’t have to look through the scout handbook before he does. This boy requires none of the standard issue equipment, as years of training (and of buying backpacks, lighters, dromedaries, and space food) have prepared him for this moment. Another bonus, he also has an Eno, in which he will sleep regardless of weather. Sure you were dry, but he “slept like a baby.”
- Space Food, But You’ve Never Been Closer to the Ground Become one with nature and reach humanity’s primal roots by eating food that only astronauts have voluntarily had. Sure, it’d be easy to have regular pasta, sandwiches, or other non-perishable boil food items. But why don’t you just have some $8.99 per package freeze dried Mountain House food that simultaneously tastes worse than any other food you’ve had that’s half its price? Also, what are your thoughts on powdered milk? Hope you like it because that will bring the flavor out of your off-brand Cap’n Crunch. Houston, do you have a problem? Well, better get digging and find some good leaves because you CAN NOT LEAVE A TRACE. Look on the bright side, though. You’ve never had a quad workout quite like this. Just stick to the Nature Valley bars you brought, provided that not a crumb touches the forest floor. If it does, you may just kill a bear cub.
- The Boy Who Cried [Dangerous Animal] Even if you’ve seen literally the same things this kid has seen for the past four days, he will maintain that he has seen seven bears, five moose, nine coyotes, and one Sasquatch. But don’t worry, he stayed back on the trail and shooed it away, but didn’t want to scare anyone. Not even the two leaders who were actually equipped to solve the problem.
- The Unexpected Standout Students What do Carter Krusz and Jack Zollweg have in common? Both were recognized as standout students on the expedition. While neither seems to have an affinity for being in the woods, both of them were recognized for showing “a commitment to the group experience over their own.” True story, by the way.
- The Mooch/The Food Trader When students arrive, they receive a snack bag with one of everything. But after two days of Fir Tree withdrawals, some boys will ask you for a granola bar. Then another. Then for your leftover Mountain House. If that doesn’t work, they’ll trade all of their remaining food for a total of six moon pies. Like the worst guy in a fantasy league, the offer will start low, then only get worse and worse until you scream “Give it a rest already and have my moon pie, I don’t care!” They will then retreat to their tents and guzzle it down in two bites before asking another guy in the group for his.
- “Challenge By Choice” The Wilderness Adventures at Eagle’s Landing Staff uses this policy to ensure that boys don’t have to do anything outside their comfort zone. There are two kinds of people under this strategy. There’s your absolute pro, who volunteers to be first to do literally anything the instructors ask him. As soon as the words “who wants to…” are uttered, this enthusiastic go-getter shouts “I’ll do it!” Then there’s his foil, the kid who believes that the Expedition itself should be challenge by choice. Hiking? He doesn’t feel comfortable. Ziplining? Too dangerous. Waking up? He doesn’t want to. Carrying the tent? Back pain. Spelunking? Claustrophobia. Repelling? Fear of heights. Powdered milk? Lactose intolerant. Never heard of a protein allergy? Neither had we until this timid soul told us about it. It’s a rare condition that comes from his maternal grandmother’s third-cousin twice-removed, and yes, it’s serious.
- Trying to Take Care of Personal Hygiene Upon Your Return You will never be in a bus that will smell more like defeat (and “the feet”). You haven’t showered in four days. This is the first time you can take your socks off in four days. This is the first time you’ve seen a bathroom door in four days. This is the first time you’re not sitting on a log in four days. When the bus stops in front of Walker, you barely have time to grab the hiking backpack you weren’t allowed to use from under that poor charter bus when you walk into the bathroom, only to find every stall, shower, sink, and urinal in use. This is the first non-dromedary water you’ll have seen in four days, but all you can do is watch as your hall-mates savor warm, running water and soap for the first time in 108 hours.