Beaver Brook—A Sixie Tradition—Reimagined

A Sixie’s first year at Roxbury Latin doesn’t officially begin until his trip to Beaver Brook. For decades, the annual excursion has taken Class VI north to Hollis, New Hampshire, with homeroom advisors, senior leaders, and new faculty for 24 hours of uninterrupted team-building and RL immersion. This year, COVID-19 forced the school to bring Beaver Brook to campus. 

“I knew right away that we couldn’t go to New Hampshire and sleep in tents and ride on the bus, and do all those things,” said Class VI Classmaster Hunter White. “I immediately thought, ‘Okay, this is going to be a day at RL.’ The schedule itself is very traditional, and I went to that to see what we could save and adapt, or modify, and what we had to get rid of. It actually worked out pretty well. My whole Class VI crew of homeroom advisors helped me with this. This was a real team effort.”

On the morning of Saturday, September 12, Sixies gathered on O’Keeffe Field in socially distanced small groups, each with a Class I leader. From there the day progressed as it would normally, first with the familiar RL Questionnaire and a guess-the-M&Ms contest.

“We ended up being able to keep almost every element and modifying for the cohorts and distancing,” said Ms. White. “We start with an orientation questionnaire, in which the boys have to find out a bunch of trivia about the school by asking seniors and faculty—but the seniors and faculty can trick them, too. They don’t always give them the right answer.” Which is part of the fun.

A new addition to this year’s reimagined schedule was a scavenger hunt designed to help students familiarize themselves with campus. 

“Since we couldn’t go into the buildings, we used the whole campus and chose our spots, made up clues, and the seniors led the boys in small groups around to find and discover what was on their list. The kids were really excited at the end. We debriefed a bit afterward, and they all said, ‘We didn’t know all these things were here!’ So they really did get to see the whole campus.”

After lunch and free time, Sixies alternated between team challenge activities on Rappaport Field, and learning the Founder’s Song with Mr. Opdycke on the Flea Patch. Each Sixie cohort then gathered for the annual viewing and group discussion of the 1957 film Twelve Angry Men. Before the end of the day, each Sixie wrote a letter to his future self, which he will open during his senior year—a traditional end to an unusual retreat.

“We were determined not to cancel this,” concluded Ms. White. “I said to the boys that this tradition has been going on for a very long time. I went to my first Beaver Brook in 1982 when I came here as a first-year faculty member. We’ve occasionally rescheduled, mostly for hurricanes, but we’ve never canceled.”

View images of the day, taken by Mr. Pojman.