Fall School Program Reflections

By Katy Gibney, Youth Program Director
As I walk along the colonnade this evening, my attention is drawn to the sky above the meadow- a stark line has been created by stratus clouds which contrasts with the dark rose and indigo sunset beneath them.  In the center of the sky shines Venus, reminding me of the night hikes taken by many of the school groups when they visited this Fall.


One of the gifts of trips to Glen Brook is the opportunity to experience darkness outdoors.  Life on Long Island affords few opportunities to be away from electric lights from streets, cars, buildings, devices and the sky, reflecting the light from these things. At first, the idea of walking in the dark evokes concerned looks and questions about flashlights. Yet, carefully venturing into the outdoors, with only the stars to light our way, students step beyond their comfort zone and allow their eyes to dilate until what, at first, seemed impenetrable, becomes clear. Quietly cresting the hill beneath the Big Dipper and a show of meteors, we hear the persistent questioning of the barred owl at Bear Camp, “Who cooks for you?”  Students laughingly answer, “Chef Robyn!”


The dark hikes serve more than one purpose. As the years go by, Glen Brook takes students on journeys into the great outdoors on camping and canoe trips, Sunrise hikes and Moonrise hikes.  These short dark hikes offer students a chance to prepare for these adventures. There is also a metaphor here. Being able to stride confidently through life even in dark times, seems like a valuable skill, whether literally or figuratively.  We are equipped to do so; we have the tools, and at Glen Brook we have a chance to practice using them.


As we hurry down the hill to the Main House, beckoning us with the lights glowing in the windows and the warmth of the fire in the wood stove, the question, “Can we do that again tomorrow?” makes me smile.  “Yes, ” I answer, “That’s a possibility.”