Evan Jahn – Staff Writer, Rowland Hall Gazette
After the drive down from Mount Hood, when the skiing is done and everyone has rested, eaten, or done whatever else they need to, that’s when the Party Beach Ski Camp really comes alive. The campers and “inspirational ski consultants,” as they like to be called, all meet up in the heart of Government Camp, Oregon, for some four square. The game is fun, fast, and easy to learn, making for a great time after skiing. But it isn’t the game that people come for. It’s the positive, inclusive, uplifting community that causes people to flock to the parking lot between the Cascade Ski Club and the cherry stand.
Two Rowland Hall students and Party Beach campers, Layla Hijawi and Charlotte Morris, were generous enough to provide some insight into why the game attracts so many. Layla said, “Everyone pushes each other, but no one brings toxic competition onto the four square court, so there’s never a negative dynamic between anyone.” It makes for an easy way to build connections. She continued by saying, “four square provides this space to just relax after a day of skiing and talk about anything you want.” While camp is only one week long, the lighthearted game solidifies friendships that build a network with a great community of people. And when Charlotte was asked her favorite thing about four square, she said that she loves how “we’re all kind of trying to win, but at the same time it’s laid back.” It seems as though all you need for a good bonding activity is something that’s easy to pick up, doesn’t require your full attention, and a space with an encouraging ambience that keeps people entertained.
Party Beach has consistently been the best week of my year, and I think that four square contributes to that. So upon coming to Rowland Hall, I wondered, “What is the four square of this school?” That is, what is the activity at the school where everyone comes together, creating bonds and building a sense of community? When I spoke to Ruchi Agarwal, a Rowland Hall sophomore, she said, “In middle school we would play four square a lot and do Kahoots with the whole school, competing for candy. It was super fun.” But when I asked her if there was something similar in high school, she wasn’t able to come up with anything. I then spoke to Rowland Hall students Maile Fukushima and Rodrigo Fernandez-Esquivias, who both seemed to like taking trips as a class. “When we go on class trips,” Rodgrio said, “like Camp Roger, everyone bonds really well, and I think we should do more of those.” And Maile said, “We could go on a school trip, which would be a fun experience for everyone to get to know each other better.” It sounds like the idea has a lot of support, but it still involves us leaving the school to meet each other. We are all already together in the building, so we should try and find something that could be done right here that brings us together frequently and tightens our great community.
Rowland Hall is not a huge school. In fact, the entire high school is smaller than a lot of classes at other schools. So we should make an effort to get to know each other, not just within our classes, but between grade levels as well. Maybe we could bring back some of the fun activities from middle school that were easy to participate in, or maybe we put our heads together and find something new. But we need to find that welcoming space where camaraderie flourishes. We need to find our four square.