LETTER: ‘A triumphant return to Bournedale’

To the editor:

It is hard to describe what I witnessed as a chaperone on the Village School’s sixth-grade trip to Camp Bournedale last week — the first Bournedale since it was canceled in 2020 — but here goes nothing.

The traditional Bournedale trip was canceled in 2020 and remained canceled for the two subsequent years. This year represented a triumphant return. And what a triumph it was!

I observed the pure joy of a bunch of sixth-graders off their phones, playing, fishing, dancing and singing, throwing themselves into theme nights and karaoke and Project Adventure. Taking care of each other. Working out conflict in person, face-to-face, rather than over group chats. Understanding the behavior expectations and working together to protect this time-honored Marblehead tradition for future classes. The rich hands-on learning that comes with handling a live lobster or building a rocket or seeing a cranberry bog or dissecting a dogfish.

As if that wasn’t enough, I also witnessed a ton of adults — teachers, counselors, staff and 95 volunteer chaperones, some of whom were bitterly divided over topics like masking in schools or remote learning — basically holding hands to make this trip possible and give the kids a safety net while they explored a little further from home. The level of effort and organization and care that longtime organizers Jonathan Heller and Cortney Cummings brought to the table was nothing short of astonishing. The whole thing makes me weepy, which annoys my sixth-grader to no end.

The part I loved most — and that I didn’t realize had been missing — was how much this tradition builds and maintains connective tissue. For the kids in each class, sure. It’s truly galvanizing; it brings them together as the graduating Class of 2029, rather than a collection of disparate classrooms.

But far bigger than that: It’s part of our community’s connective tissue. I stood at Bournedale this week with people with whom I attended the trip in 1990. I overheard people in Shubie’s reminiscing about their time, decades ago. Old pictures were posted online and chatter ensued about how special this is to generations of Marblehead kids. Parents expressed grief for the three classes who missed out.

The return of this trip after those years of discord and disconnection feels WAY bigger than just this class’ experience. There was healing in it. Thank you, thank you, thank you — to everyone who made this happen.

Kate Thomson

Bubier Road

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