Program Highlight: Midland Stewards - Midland School

Program Highlight: Midland Stewards

Summer 2021

Imagine you are lying under the stars, the sky around you so dark that you see the Milky Way winding its way like a roiling river from one mountain-topped skyline to the other. You lie next to your fellow classmates underneath a few massive Valley Oaks whose crooked limbs and sturdy trunk have called this place home long before California was a state. Though what I’ve described so far is special, this or something like it happens at many independent schools. However, what I’ll continue to describe only happens at Midland School.

As you look down the valley a few miles away, and more than 1,000 feet below you, you see the lights of your high school, dotting the valley below. You and your classmates walked here carrying backpacks you packed yourselves with only the assistance of a few upperclassmen who have given up their Friday night to spend it with you and your fellow 9th graders. There are no teachers or other adults present and you won’t see one until you return to campus the next morning (…though the seniors reassure you the adults are only a radio call away). The goal of this overnight camping trip is to make you feel welcome to school, connected to your classmates, and connected to the new place you call home.

Who are these upperclassmen? Why are they giving up their Friday night to hang out with a bunch of 9th graders instead of their friends they haven’t seen all summer? The seniors who are leading this trip are part of the Midland Steward program, which is the lifeblood of the Midland School Outdoors Program and a truly unique feature of the Midland boarding school experience. Midland Stewards’ primary responsibility is to share their love and knowledge of our property, including the more than 30 miles of trails across 3,000 acres of our surrounding Oak Woodland, Oak Savannah, and Chaparral landscape that surrounds our school. Stewards take on an authentic leadership role at the school by taking other students on night hikes, longer hikes on the property property, and, of course, overnight camping trips without an adult present. Being a Midland Steward is a responsibility that is taken quite seriously and requires a high degree of knowledge of the Midland property, trust, training, and skill.

As the Dean of Experiential Learning, I have the privilege of working intimately with these Stewards each year helping them build not only their outdoor and leadership skills, but also their competencies in communication and team work. In order to become a Steward students must complete various trainings including in Outdoor Leadership, Wilderness First Aid, and in Emergency Response. At Midland, whether it’s in the Steward program, our Prefect program, or the Jobs program, we train and trust our students to teach one another, leave this place better than they found it, and most importantly, care for one another and themselves — this is what it means to get a Midland education, something you truly can’t get anywhere else!

By Dan Susman
Dean of Experiential Learning

Read more about Dan.

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