Guest blog post by Science Educator Dana Colihan
In 2012, YOLO, an acronym for “you only live once,” quickly emerged as a popular slang word amongst youth across the country. The term evokes the saying, “carpe diem,” seize the day, you only have one life so you might as well “go for it.”
Last summer working as a Science Education Intern, I noticed the Overland instructors using the term “YOHIO” with their campers. Overland is a outdoors summer camp for 4th-12th Graders that organizes different excursion trips around the world. During Overland’s Maine Coast Leadership Trip, campers come to Hurricane Island to learn about Leave No Trace principles and explore the island. “YOHIO” is “YOLO” with a Hurricane Island twist: You Only Hurricane Island Once. “YOHIO” was a great way to encourage campers and students to completely embrace their time on Hurricane Island. If a student is nervous about jumping off the pier or going rock climbing? YOHIO!
While I love the sentiment of “YOHIO,” in practice, it is hard to only Hurricane Island once. As many people know, once you have sat and watched the sunset from Gibbons Point, hiked the perimeter trail, crawled in the intertidal zone near Two Bush, or star gazed from the High Cliffs, you become hooked. While you might leave Hurricane, you find yourself called back to the island’s granite coast and salty shore. After leaving Hurricane Island last summer to finish my last year at Oberlin College, I knew I had to return to Hurricane Island. You can see this phenomenon in the numerous returning staff members, with open enrollment students that have signed up their third or fourth summer in a row, and with teachers and school programs who come back year after year.
This past week the Epiphany School returned to Hurricane Island for their third year. Epiphany is an independent, tuition free middle school in Boston that serves students from economically disadvantaged families. This year as a Science Educator, I had the privilege of working with 14 of Epiphany’s seventh graders going into eighth grade. We had a classic Hurricane Island experience: lobstering with Oakley, island research and scallops with Bailey, rock climbing with Sam, and much more.
My favorite activity with Epiphany was the raft challenge. The raft challenge is an team building and strategizing activity. After teaching students a few knots, we give them three plastic barrels, five piece of wood, and six pieces of rope to build a raft to boat across the ice pond. Initially, the Epiphany students were thoroughly unexcited and understandably so--the water is dark, dirty, and kind of gross. I tried to encourage students with, “YOHIO:” When else are you going to have the opportunity to try to build a raft to sail across a dirty pond? A couple students countered, Isn’t this your second year here? What if I want to come back next year?!
After working on their models for a good 30 minutes, the three groups picked up their products and confidently attempted to launch their rafts. Chaos quickly ensued, with barrels popping out of their wooden frames, rafts sinking, and students falling into the water. Every single student ended up getting into the water, splashing around, and screaming. During all of the raft challenges I had witnessed during my time at Hurricane Island, this was the biggest turn around and the most fun I have ever seen a group of students have.
As the Epiphany students pointed out to me, it is a bit of a misnomer for me to use the term “YOHIO.” However, the “go for it” spirit of “YOHIO” lives on, and the verdict is that is not only okay, but also encouraged to return to Hurricane Island again, and again.