For 50 years, St. Mark’s has been sending boys into the wild to take on new challenges and form bonds of brotherhood. While the program had to pause last year, Marksmen returned to the great outdoors this month as 100 rising sophomores embarked on the Pecos Wilderness Trip. Throughout the weeklong trip, the boys journeyed across the Pecos Wilderness in New Mexico, hiking five to eight miles a day, summiting mountains, making camp, and cooking meals. For more than a week, the boys lived off only what they carried and learned the values of both self-reliance and cooperation.
“When we are out backpacking, the boys have a realization of a lot of the lessons we teach in the classroom,” said Cameron Hillier ’13, St. Mark’s English teacher and Director of the Wilderness Program. “It is uncomfortable at a few points, but any teacher will tell you that the most growth happens when we’re pushed outside our comfort zones.”
As always, the boys were led by a dedicated team of teachers, administrators, staff members, and other adults. Among those leading the Class of 2024 were 15 fellow Marksmen, including several Upper School Sherpas, three recent graduates, and a field medic from the Class of 2001.
“The Wilderness Program is really about bringing the boys together as brothers,” said Mark Sullivan, Director of Physical and Experiential Education, who has served as a Pecos leader for the past 35 years. “They learn to help each other, count on each other, and support each other.”
The Pecos Trip is just one part of St. Mark’s Wilderness Program, which began in 1971 with a camping trip to Big Bend National Park. The following year, the School sent rising freshmen to the Pecos Wilderness, which lies within New Mexico’s Santa Fe National Forest and Carson National Forest. Today, the Wilderness Program begins in Middle School, where boys embark on a series of overnight camping trips, culminating with the Pecos Trip. While the Class of 2024 had to wait a year for their trip, the School plans to send the Classes of 2025 and 2026 out to the Pecos next summer.
We will be collecting and posting photos from the trip here
. If you have photos you would like to submit from this year’s trip, please contact Dave Carden