Rafting Into a New School Year: The Return of Expedition Academy


Former Exped students on a white water rafting trip.

Ben Pazderak, Writer

On September 7th, 2021, the RHS Expedition Academy returned to action with their annual white water rafting trip. 

This trip is usually the first to kick off the school year and introduce the new freshmen to the adventure aspect of Exped.

When asked how it felt to go back on a trip again, Exped advisor Mr. Foreman stated that, “it was great…Having everyone in the class really gives a good feeling for Exped [and] going on a trip like that really enhances bringing everyone together and that feeling of togetherness.”

For over twenty years, one of the most special programs within the walls of Theodore Roosevelt High School has been the Expedition Academy.

Unique with its seminar based learning, no tests, and monthly adventures including backpacking trips into the wilderness, Exped has always drawn a set of students that think creatively and like the thrill of adventure. While this program has always been a great experience for its freshman and sophomore students, it has experienced recent setbacks.

Similarly to other programs, Exped was hurt significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic. While previous years may have yielded trips across state lines as far as Virginia, Exped went on only one major trip last year; a combined rafting and backpacking trip.

“It was definitely challenging. I think what makes Exped so special is the fact that students are working together and being together and hanging out, and a lot of the COVID stuff prevented a lot of those traditions, and Exped’s definitely something that’s based on a lot of traditions so COVID hurt a lot of that… That being said, the spirit was still there and being able to go on that final trip almost saved some of that and motivated the current sophomores to be good leaders this year,” stated Foreman on what last year was like.

Current juniors who were previously members of Exped were affected the most by the pandemic. Not only did they lose most of their trips in the 2020-2021 school year, but they also lost some during the end of their freshman year. 

Optimistically, the 2021-2022 school year is looking a lot better for the Expedition Academy. With the release of the schedule, Exped are set to go on four backpacking trips, as well as other adventures including a high ropes course and multiple day trips.

Furthermore, there might be a chance for the juniors who lost a lot of the true Exped experience to go on one last trip. According to Foreman, “the plan right now is to have three hiking crews on the [Appalachian Trail]. Two from the current classes, and a junior based one.” This opportunity would allow current juniors to hike on the prestigious Appalachian Trail, which typically is an annual trip.

With vaccination rates rising and a mask mandate in the Kent City School District, it seems less likely that COVID-19 will cause major problems within Exped. Hopefully the school year stays smooth, and all clubs and groups get to continue their year with relative normalcy.