Upper School boarding students took a trip to the mountain last weekend for their first off-campus outing since returning to OES. A group of six students visited Mt. Hood Skibowl for cosmic tubing under disco lights and laser beams.
“I was trying to think of something to really give these individuals who had been in the dorms for almost a month now, something fun to do,” Experiential Education Coordinator Tom Handel said. “They hadn't been off-campus at all, and I wanted the trip to be something unique and experiential, and I wanted to show them a place that I truly love which is Mt. Hood. I think they really enjoyed it.”
Handel drove the group the hour and a half east of Portland for the trip, complete with pizza for the car ride. Once they arrived, they were greeted by more than 600,000 LED lights, laser light shows, glowing neon lights, fun music, and a conveyor belt to get sledders to the top of the hill.
“Cosmic tubing was just amazing,” Nanati F. ‘22 said. “We had an incredible time and made some of the best memories.”
“We had some really good conditions for tubing itself,” Handel continued. “The tubing hill is very organized and really fun. Once we were back in the car the energy levels were super high!”
While cosmic tubing was one of the goals of the trip, another goal for Handel and the students was to gather together, get to know each other a little better, and enjoy what, for some, was their first time tubing.
“Their reactions were off the hook,” Handel said. “I'll never forget, the second we got in the minibus, we barely got down Nicol Road and one of them exclaimed, ‘Hey, there's another human that's not a dorm parent!’ I loved that. They were just chatterboxes the whole way up to the mountain.”
For a group that was away from Oregon since March of 2020 due to the pandemic, then quarantined at home, then back in the dorms but isolated, the trip to Mt. Hood provided a boost for the students’ emotional well-being and bonding.
“I just want to reiterate how proud I am of this group for making it for so long, being pretty much just in a bubble in the dorms and not seeing many other humans,” Handel said. “They were really jelling and connecting on this trip.”
Toward the end of the adventure, Handel and the students realized that their group represented seven different countries around the world including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Spain, and the United States.
“It was really cool to actually realize and state that on the drive home,” Handel said. “I'll never forget just how gracious and thankful everybody was—it was really sweet.”