The Peer Leadership Program has been an integral part of Chapin’s Upper School since 1998. Recently, to kick off the school year and the 21st year of the program, the Class 12 Peer Leaders and all of Class 9 journeyed to the beautiful Pine Forest Campground in Pennsylvania for an overnight stay. With a sprawling 1,000 acre plot, just two hours from NYC, the camp was the perfect spot for a day of outdoor adventure and community-building.*
During their stay at the camp, students roasted s’mores on a crackling fire, bravely tackled a ropes course – complete with a 45-foot climbing wall and two zip lines – and spent time getting to know the other students in their Peer Leadership groups.
“This trip really kickstarts the relationships the students will have throughout the year,” noted Erica Corbin, Director of Community Life and Diversity and Peer Leadership Faculty Advisor. “As they get to know each other better in their small groups, they start to share more personal stories and really bond.”
At the beginning of the academic year, Class 9 is broken up into Peer Leadership groups (with about 11 students per group), each led by two Class 12 Peer Leaders. The students meet once a cycle during the year and come to count their Peer Leaders as valuable resources, mentors, and friends. “The Peer Leaders are sounding boards that are there to offer support,” Ms. Corbin added.
These vibrant Class 12 students, who apply for the position and undergo leadership training in preparation for their roles, are close at hand to help guide the younger students and to facilitate meaningful and timely discussions around academic and social/emotional issues.
The Pine Forest trip was a fun way to introduce the Class 9 students to their Peer Leaders and small groups. Each Peer Leadership group stayed together in their own cabin, creating memories and building trust that will serve them well during meaningful conversations throughout the year. These beautiful friendships and mentorships will surely deepen and grow as the months go by!
*In past years, this overnight program took place in Blairstown.
Browse photos from the trip below: