Opinion: Everyone deserves the treasured Cape Cod trip experience


Credit: Courtesy of Bethann Monahan

WSPN’s Katya Luzarraga discusses the pros and cons for the 7th grade class at Wayland Middle School to not experience the traditional Cape Cod trip due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Katya Luzarraga

Looking down at the sand dunes, I attempt to catch my breath at the peak as little blobs of color go tumbling down the colossal mountains of sand. Waves of laughter carried by the wind fill the expansive gray sky. On this day, sand covers my leggings, I’m so out of breath, bruises will definitely be covering my leg the next morning due to falling down the dunes more than once, but I’ve never been happier. I cannot imagine my middle school years without this experience and now the current middle schoolers have been robbed of it. They deserve an experience as influential as this one was to me. It’s embedded in my mind for life.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many things for middle schoolers have changed. During the 2019-2020 school year, the traditional eighth-grade field trip to Washington D.C. was canceled. For the next couple of years, the pandemic drastically limited the trips and experiences that were available for students. Now, this includes the seventh grade class at WMS not being able to visit the Cape Cod Sea Camps in Brewster, Mass. for the trip that usually takes place at the end of May.

The impact of COVID-19 affected the camps, but it ultimately came down to the decision of the owners to sell the property. Once the camps shut down in 2020, a Brewster town meeting almost unanimously voted to sell the property to acquire open space for beach access and recreation.

Without the housing of the Sea Camps, the opportunity to visit Cape Cod for three days while learning about unique flora and fauna native to the Cape has been taken away from students, eager to unwind as the weather becomes warmer. Instead, students welcome a full “Wonder Week,” where, along with the Cape Cod day trip on Monday, May 23, they will be on Duck Tours around Boston and visiting the New England Aquarium on Tuesday, May 27, traveling to Blue Hills Observatory on Wednesday, May 25 and spending time in school exploring marine ecology on Thursday, May 26 and Friday, May 27.

In normal circumstances, the Cape Cod trip lasts three days overall, and in those days you’re able to go play mini golf, have a movie night with your friends in a nearby theater and just connect with your grade.

In contrast, the Cape Cod trip this year is a fun, little excursion that you will get to experience for a little while, but then, boom, welcome back to Boston. The landscapes around you mold back into the familiar building skylines and the air around you gets more stifled. No more soaking your feet in the cool tidal flats at Macaroni Beach, having your hair messed up by tumbling down the Truro sand dunes or goofing off with your friends at Button Bush Trail.

The Cape Cod Sea Camps were a huge part of the experience I had. Kudos to the middle school staff for attempting to work around the camp shut down, but honestly there’s no point in teasing the seventh grade class with visiting the Cape if students don’t get the opportunity to run in the icy morning air to the outhouse showers near the cabins, dash excitedly across the camp to sneak into their friends’ cabin, sleep in bunk beds with their classmates or any of the other amazing, unique experiences that come from the trip. A whole three days of learning and bonding cannot be squished into one day this year, which at least three hours would be taken up by the bus ride alone.

Yes, of course exploring marine ecology and watching movies in a big theater will be a fun experience for the seventh-graders, as it allows them to be with their classmates outside of the school environment, but I can’t help but feel that they’re going to view this trip differently than my class did in the long run.

There’s just something about being in a completely different environment than school, and knowing that you’re not going to return to the normalcy of classes and the comfort of your home for a couple of days. The sense of anticipation felt right before boarding the Silver Fox coach bus to Cape Cod is an unforgettable feeling, and I hope that the seventh grade class will get the chance to experience this when they go on their Cape Cod day trip, or any school trip in the future, if there is ever an opportunity to resume these trips fully.

I do believe that this so-called “Wonder Week” is going to be an exciting time for seventh-graders, given that this is their first opportunity since the COVID-19 pandemic to have a taste of what school trips used to be like. However, there will be a lingering feeling of missing out on something that other classes before them can bond about.

Being able to have a shared experience with your grade is the significance of this trip. It’s not what you learned while on it, but it’s all about who you get close to and how you grow as a class. It’s about learning to respect people’s routines out of school, fawning over a crab that just scurried by your feet under the sticky sand or just posing for a homeroom photo.

The fondest memories really do come from who you enjoy them with, so I think that whatever this year’s seventh-graders experience during “Wonder Week” will make a lasting impression on them for the rest of their school years. It’s up to them, however, to decide what type of experiences they wish to remember from these trips, positive or negative.