A Not So Average Day

by Jennifer Van Gundy '05

If I had to pick a book title to describe the High Sierra Semester, I would have to go with the Calvin and Hobbes book The Days are Just Packed by Bill Waterson. This phrase just epitomizes my experience at Bass Lake.

The days are crammed with activities. Already this week, I have done so much I am amazed. I kayaked around Bass Lake with three friends on Monday. We got soaking wet from all the splashing of our uncoordinated efforts, but eventually managed to reach the designated cove. We then spent the rest of the day engaged in reading Tertullian’s Apology Apologeticum (a defense of Christianity addressed to the Roman governors) while we walked along the lake shore with our feet in the water; it was idyllic. On Tuesday night, Thad Knowles, the facility manager at Emerald Cove Camp, and his wife graciously invited the whole group up to their home for dessert. We spent the night talking, laughing, playing with the kids (there are a whole troupe of children up here in Bass Lake), listening to Literature Professor Stephen Bell’s hilarious stories, and eating the best ice cream sundaes ever.

A group of us congregate around a table at the Knowles' house to enjoy great conversation and the best ice cream sundaes ever.

On Wednesday morning, we had a 9/11 memorial on Star Rock. We sang hymns, prayed, and mourned together. Don Lawrence, program director, played taps on the trumpet and I cried. I know others did too. That night, about eight of us played a vigorous game of water polo under the stars. After that, some people declared an impromptu movie night while others studied over cereal (I am quickly becoming an addict) and chai tea.

On Thursday I climbed out of my loft around 8 a.m, slipped on my moccasins, and headed down to breakfast. After breakfast I went to plenary (plenary is basically a big lecture/discussion led by one member of the faculty concerning there area of expertise) to listen to History Professor Tim Hagan discuss the culture of ancient Mesopotamia. Then for one hour we had “focus time” which is intended to be a time for devotion and reflection with God. For the first fifteen minutes, there are often voluntary faculty-led devotions.

Later on Thursday, I attended Stephen Bell’s discussion on Obadiah and the sin of unbrotherliness (which is very applicable in such a tight community as we have in the Great Works Program). After lunch, I spent the entire afternoon hanging out with Plato. I had convinced myself that philosophy and I were not going to get along, that there was no way to reconcile story-loving me to somber, headache-inducing philosophy. Much to my surprise, I spent all afternoon thoroughly engrossed in Socrates’ noble and eloquent defense of himself (and subtle mocking of his accusers) and went away much inspired and encouraged. And now, here I am, perched in a five person hammock strung between three trees and a wooden pole, barefoot (I have sworn off shoes for a day) on yet another beautiful, mild Bass Lake afternoon typing away on my trusty laptop.

Jennifer Van Gundy, Stephany Hollabough, Kristen Mackin, and Adam Goyer enjoy another morning plenary session.

The truth of the matter is, the more time I spend up here I realize that the amazing setting and the unique community atmosphere prevent any day or event from being ordinary. Every day in the High Sierras is crammed — chock-full of interesting new experiences, lively conversations, challenging ideas, and infinite beauty. I can try to express what can only be experienced, but it is impossible. So I can only say this: the days are just packed with good things.