It’s a right of passage for parents as much as it is for Old Rochester Regional Junior High students – Survival week.
Roughly half the seventh graders at ORR choose to hike to the hills of western Massachusetts and participate in Survival week, a one-week outdoors hiking and camping experience that has been one of the staple life experiences of many a Tri-Town 13-year-old. It’s a week without phones, Internet, TV, fast food, iced coffee, a shower, and, most importantly of all, Mom and Dad.
Parents, siblings, and family pets waited anxiously for the telltale sirens that signal the three busses full of ‘survivors’ are on their way down Route 6 accompanied by Tri-Town police cruisers. There were balloons, homemade signs, streamers, trays of sweet ice-cold coffee from Dunkin, and hundreds of iPhones pointed in the general direction of the main entrance of the Old Rochester Regional campus. It was Sunday, June 9, the final day of Survival Week and parents and caregivers were eager to hug their overtired, hungry, sweaty children after an anguishing week of concern, worry, and relative peace and quiet.
As the teens poured out of the busses and into the adoring crowd, there were mad dashes, smiles, some tears, and snacks. Plenty of snacks.
The weather in the Northfield area was fine, reported Survival leader Robert Nordahl, a Rochester police officer.
“There were a couple trips to the emergency room, nothing serious,” said Nordahl. “There were no serious injuries – it’s normal to have a few trips to the ER for minor [injuries].”
Survival was started in 1973, and its legacy is an experience for all Old Rochester seventh-graders to rise to the task, surpass their expectations of their own abilities, form strong and lasting friendships, create memories to last a lifetime, and make it home again as an ORR ‘survivor.’
By Jean Perry