December 4, 2019 shona

Thinking Out of the Box: the Class of ’68 helps Midland launch a Wilderness Fund Endowment

The Class of 1968 was a small class: only 11 in the graduating class out of 23 boys who were in the class at some point between 1964 and 1968.  Nevertheless, we have been a tight knit group. We have gotten together 2+ times a year over the past many years, including twice a year to camp, hike and hang out in or near the wilderness, mostly in California.  In March 2019, 11 of us camped in Joshua Tree National Park and in September 2018, 8 of us set up in cabins at the edge of the wilderness near Big Pine and hiked the Eastern Sierra.

On one of our trips, at the initiation of the ultimate Midland Hero, Jim Quick, we gathered to discuss creative ideas on how we might best give back to Midland.  You see…we all believe that Midland has had a material impact on our lives, especially with respect to our self-reliance and our love for the wilderness. In fact, in 1965 we made a proposal to Midland’s Student Council that resulted in the back-country hiking day, which is now known as Grass Mountain Day.

I guess it is natural, given how we have shared the wilderness, that we would suggest an idea to do something related to the wilderness for present and future Midland students.  Here is what we have come up with and that is being supported by the School and the Board of Directors:

Build an endowment fund, called the Wilderness Fund, that will make one or more annual grants to support targeted wilderness activity and equipment purchases by Midland.  The key recipient of the grant would be a student for use in summer between his/her sophomore and junior year to pay for an extended wilderness course, such as the highly regarded 5-week courses offered by the National Outdoor Leadership School in the Wind River Wilderness in Wyoming.  The student who receives the annual grant would be obligated to teach other Midland students what they learned and to work with Midland to extend that knowledge by working closely with the Midland Outdoor Program director. After the first two years, there should always be two students (a junior and a senior) who received the grant, experienced the in-depth wilderness program and who would collaborate with each other to teach these wilderness skills, lead programs and deepen the wilderness experience for all Midland students.

All eligible Midland students have received information about the opportunities presented by the Fund, and the project was announced to the Midland community at the recent Thanksgiving Assembly. We look forward to seeing this Wilderness Fund Endowment blossom and contribute in a meaningful way to the unique educational vision that Midland promotes.

– Rick DeGolia ’68