7th Grade Dreyland

Emi Pope, Reporter

Imagine deserting a haphazard band of adolescents in the middle of the woods, then requiring them to use their nonexistent cartography skills to meticulously follow a map back to their camp. Then imagine sporadically discarding the same children in various, isolated areas, and forcing them to remain there for three hours. What do these two events have in common? 7th Grade Dreyland. I have heard many students complain and lament over their experience at Dreyland, but personally, I had a pretty great time, even though I was a naïve, friendless sevie. And while some of you may claim that Dreyland was an unpleasant ordeal filled with more bug bites than enthusiasm, I would argue that most of us actually enjoy our time there, whether we will admit it or not.

Solo is a common topic of conversation in regards to Dreyland. The alleged purpose of this event is to contemplate and intensely reflect within yourself. In my case, this is not exactly what happened. In these three hours, I managed to convince myself I had spotted a bat falling from the sky and into the tree I was huddling under; create a religion involving an annual sacrifice to “feed” the earth; and build a small castle out of the gravel I was, unfortunately, sitting on. While there was no deep psychological soul-searching done during this period, I somehow found bits and pieces that were entertaining and worth reminiscing.

When I asked about other students’ Solo experience, the majority were immediately able to describe a series of amusing stories. “It was so weird. Because Christian Wynn was just standing the whole time. Literally for all three hours,” Peyton Starks ‘21 told me, laughing so hard she was more often wheezing than speaking. And supposedly I am not the only one who has persuaded themselves that they saw a strange animal, because Kai Pope ‘24 animatedly claimed, “I saw a baby bear.” After further contemplation, he admitted, “Well, actually, I saw a little black thing and it sort of looked like a baby bear, so I just said it was a baby bear.” As I continued to interview students, I realized that the number of students supporting Solo far outweighed those that disapproved. Lola Fernandez ‘20 backs this up, simply stating, “I actually really liked Solo. I just got to take a nap.” Caroline Strahorn ‘20 agrees, saying, “Actually, Solo was surprisingly relaxing and meaningful.”

I will admit that the entirety of Solo was not paradise, but each of us has emerged with a story to tell and a memory that can be wistfully looked back on. For me, that makes three hours of shivering inside of a trash bag worth it.

Another equally famous — or infamous, you decide — activity is Trek. My personal Trek ordeal was a mess, but the best part was that when I hiked out that fateful morning, I had no idea what was about to occur. I was clueless to the fact that my group would wander aimlessly through the woods from eight AM to eight PM, that our senior leaders would try to make us scale a cliff, or that Mr. Dee would have to rescue us while we were roasting bagels and cheese over a failed attempt of a fire. This may sound awful and tedious, but at the time, these instances were thrilling. They prove that at Dreyland, just about anything can happen.

Lola confirmed this when she told me, “Leo peed on a hornets’ nest and a bunch of them came out and stung Annie Arnold seven times.” If I had not known and experienced the reputation of Dreyland, I would have waved off this claim as false, but the sheer peculiarity and bizarreness of this story clearly means it must have occurred at Dreyland. These odd and amusing memories are what make this 7th-grade trip unforgettable.

Overall, opinions of 7th Grade Dreyland were overwhelmingly positive. Peyton told me, “I was able to interact with lots of new people, make new friends, become comfortable with our class, and I never had bathroom duty.” Strahorn said enthusiastically, I loved 7th-grade Dreyland because I met a lot of cool people I had never talked to before, and I really enjoyed most of the activities. Also, my cabin was super fun, and I didn’t stop laughing the whole time.” Sydney Panagos ‘20 confessed that “My 7th-grade Dreyland experience was amazing. I learned to trust my classmates during the activities that we did, and I had the chance to put myself out there and feel more comfortable with the classmates I was going to spend the next six years with at Burroughs.” Dreyland was one of the very first impressions we had of our class, and the fact that we got to meet new people in such an adventurous and comical environment is something we should be grateful for.

Despite the bugs, the occasional boredom of Solo, and the physical labor of Trek, somehow many of us have managed to create an experience that is not only unforgettable but something worth remembering. The stories we are able to share with each other about baby bears and irritated hornets are memories that will stick with us for a long time. I know that many of you do not enjoy nature, waking up early, or sitting alone in the dark for three hours, but I hope you will look back on 7th grade Dreyland fondly and recall what it was like to be a 13-year-old without a care in the world.