At the close of Summer Challenge I spoke to a number of students who proudly declared, “I want to be at Hyde,” and some who reluctantly admitted that they needed to return. Both statements are wonderful and a little difficult to hear. Being a student (and faculty) at Hyde is no walk in the park. I consider it one of the hardest things I have ever loved doing. Students who commit to this experience and say aloud, “I want to be here” are in for one heck of a challenge.
So why would any teenager willingly put themselves into a process that always asks their best, creates a peer culture of high expectations, and will probably be a more mature environment than some they will leave for at the end? Because as students have repeatedly told me, it is the place they connect with people, the place they know others care about them, the place that they discover more of what they are made of. Hyde creates life-long relationships among the students and life-long learners of the students.
Hyde is not the end-all be-all but it does provide an opportunity unlike any other school I am aware of. Nor is it perfect. As an institution, as a process, it continues to learn and grow. Most students (and faculty) who say they want to be here have days when they also think, “Was that the right decision?” But that is also the nature of commitment. Committing to Hyde can lay the groundwork for life-long understanding o f what it means to commit and enjoy the fruits of one’s labor.
In many ways I was called to come to Hyde like some of the students I’ve spoken to lately. Thirteen years ago I was an Outward Bound instructor just finishing up a string of hiking and canoeing courses in northern Maine when I received a call to re-interview here in Woodstock. It was this exact time of year. I was offered the job and ten days later had moved in and was prepping for classes. That decision changed my life and altered the course I was on. I would not change a moment of the last thirteen years and know that my life is richer for having listened to the call.