Three Weeks At Exploration: "Thinking Things I Never Dreamed Possible..." This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   "I'm so excited for you! It's a great program," my mom said. "Your mind will be thinking things you'd never dreamed possible." I rolled my eyes. She always exaggerates, I thought. She's never been to Exploration, only heard about it, and she's already telling me it will be the best three weeks of my summer.

I felt jealous of my friends who at this moment were sleeping, probably to wake up around noon. When I arrived at the campus at Wellesley College, I thought how beautiful it was. There was so much green, manicured as far as the eye could see.

After having our pictures taken for our camp ID's, we were ushered into a huge church. There were already hundreds of kids - "The residential students."

Suddenly the sound of microphone feedback sliced through the air. The room cringed. I spotted a young man, probably an instructor, with long, black hair tied behind his head. He shook a pack of Lifesavers, running up to a girl in the front row. "What's your name?" he asked. Quite em- barrassed she answered, "I'll give you the red Lifesaver in my hand if you can tell me Batman's real name," he asked. The sound echoed throughout the great hall.

I remembered my mom's words, " Your mind will be thinking things you'd never dream possible." Is this what she meant?

"Class #221, Self Expression. Left door," a man said. My teacher was a young woman wearing short shorts and a tee-shirt. She had auburn hair worn in a ponytail. My first impression was that of a granola woman: you know, a vegetarian, animal activist," Save the American Termite" type.

Once we were seated, she wrote, "Lori Taylor," on the board. I could tell that Lori was very confident, in a way that her opinions could and would not be altered by others. I know how rare that is, so she had my esteem.

The first class went on in the direction that most first classes tend to head. We all learned names, and facts about each person in the room. Lori had enthusiasm for every answer. I tried hard to see the magic she saw, but failed.

That night my mom wanted all the details, and I was forced to sit down and tell her and to admit that I had not had an awful time. There were also classes ranging in seriousness from abortion (the controvertial Supreme Court ruling occurred while we were there) to classics like "How to Care for your Lawn" and the ever-popular Batman. There were also classes to learn sign language, jewelry making, and a huge variety of land and water sports. There were activities that you'd never see offered anywhere else, but Exploration: Marble Paper and Fish Prints (where they actually took dead fish, dipped them in paint and rolled them across paper - the art room smelled wonderful for two days). But I always looked forward to Lori's class.

One day, Lori climbed on a table and said,"Look at my hands, my feet, my torso, my shoulders, my head. Do I look like a woman?" She clapped loudly and jumped off the table. We discussed what a woman was supposed to look like and why she must look like the stereotype. When I went home that night my mind was still going over this issue. Why were women treated merely as objects? Why were men accepted for what they were?

Day after day I went back to Exploration. Day after day I came home with mounting enthusiasm. Lori was quickly becoming the best teacher I'd ever had. Her classes ranged in content from discussions of Bob Dylan's songs to blind walks through the woods to hypnotism , an absolutely incredible experience. Everything we did was in some way connected, expertly, brilliantly connected.

As I look back on the entire experience now, I miss it: the relaxed atmosphere; the ingeniously planned classes and events, the friends and teachers, they are just memories now. Next summer I'll be there again. But I definitely did "think things I never dreamed possible ..." n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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