In the spring of 2016, RPS faculty, students, parents, alumni, and retired retired teachers celebrated the school’s 250th anniversary in a truly unique way: by backpacking, hiking, biking, and kayaking 250 miles throughout New Jersey.
The first section of the trip was accomplished over spring break, during which the eight person crew backpacked 64 miles in six days along the Appalachian Trail in northern New Jersey.
“[We felt a] great sense of accomplishment and teamwork,” said expedition coordinator and RPS History Teacher Russ Bartlett. “We couldn’t have done it without lots of help from RPS students, teachers, staff, alums, and parents.” Mr. Bartlett is no stranger to the out-of-doors, either. He also coordinates the 9th Grade Freshman Camping Trip, is an Eagle Scout, and has traversed all ~2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail as a “Thru-Hiker."
The remaining mileage was covered throughout the month of May, as the intrepid travelers hiked, pedaled, and paddled their way across New Jersey on trails and along the Delaware and Raritan Canal, reaching for their goal of 250 miles for RPS.
“I think the greatest reward was the sense of accomplishment after each day we finished,” said Miriam Wolpert ’16.
David Wise, Associate Director of College Counseling and Upper School Math Teacher, reflecting on his own experience said, “The backpacking expedition reminded me that the essence of teaching at RPS parallels the essence of hiking the AT (Appalachian Trail) - the relationship we have with our environment and with each other provide the most important components of understanding who we are as we strive to build fulfilling and meaningful life."
71 backpacking, 26 hiking, 141 cycling, 12 kayaking – those are the mileage totals completed between March 21st and May 31st by the participants in this endeavor – a combined distance greater than 9.5 marathons. And on Tuesday, May 31st, the trekkers crossed the bridge between the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park and Rutgers Prep’s campus, concluding their journey and being welcomed home by fanfare provided by the entire school.
“We are all indebted to Mr. Bartlett,” said retired RPS teacher Dave Mazsa. “This was his idea, he led the committee which developed the idea, he did most of the planning, ad he is the only one who was there on every day and trekked every one of the 250 miles – he made it possible."