The College Outdoors
Dr. Robert Stacey is the provost of The Saint Constantine School and The College at Saint Constantine. To learn more about our college program and how Saint Constantine’s curriculum progresses after High School, click here.
Anyone who knows the Saint Constantine community quickly comes to learn of our firm and thoroughly considered philosophy of play. Whether it’s free-play at recess in our Lower School or frequent outdoor retreats in our Upper School, we know the mind and body are so intimately linked that it is irresponsible to neglect one in favor of the other.
Our philosophy of play does not simply end with high school. Recently, I had the opportunity to take our Saint Constantine college students on a weekend kayaking trip in the waters off Port Aransas. Outdoor excursions of this sort are a regular part of our college curriculum by design. Each trip is unique, fun, and challenging in its own right, but they serve a purpose beyond amusement and diversion.
With any group of young adults, one finds a range of skill levels when it comes to activities like camping, hiking, climbing, etc. Our kayaking group was no exception. By renting tandem kayaks, we were able to pair experienced paddlers with first-timers. Thus paired off, we spent most of Saturday navigating mazes of saltwater mangroves, traversing large expanses of blue water, and exploring the unique seascape of Texas’ Coastal Bend region. We even enjoyed the company of a pod of dolphins who joined us on the last leg of our journey.
Saturday night found us camping on the beach. After a dinner of beef stew, the students competed in a series of spontaneously generated games imitating the “funeral games” for Patroclus from the Iliad. Victors crowned and prizes awarded, we spent the rest of the night around the campfire discussing everything from Shakespeare to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Again, if we did nothing else but enjoy a fun weekend together, that would be something, but by combining elements of rigorous physical activity, cooperation toward a common goal, and immersion in unfamiliar tasks, we drew our community closer together. Students discovered capabilities they didn’t know they had. And perhaps most importantly, each one gained new immunity from obstacles. Challenges like this shift ones frame of reference. Things that once seemed dauntingly difficult now seem manageable in light of what we accomplished on the water.
Outdoor play should not end with elementary school, and at The College at Saint Constantine, it continues appropriately into adulthood.