School Walk

This tradition was begun by Frederick Gunn himself, who in 1861 led students on an extended walk to Milford, where they camped for several days. It is for this reason that Mr. Gunn is credited as the founder of recreational camping in the United States.

  • In 1886, five years after Mr. Gunn’s death, the first commemorative all-school walk was instituted by his son-in-law and the second Head of School, John Brinsmade.

  • The occasion carries with it a sense of ceremony. Often the walks have begun with the laying of a wreath at his gravesite in St. John’s Cemetery, or a member of the faculty will read from Mr. Gunn’s writings about nature before the group sets out.

  • The actual route and destination also have varied over the years, yet the premise has remained the same.

  • Today the whole community – students, faculty, staff, and sometimes alumni, family and friends – gathers to participate in a six to eight-mile hike through the 998-acred Steep Rock Preserve to the summit (at an elevation of 776 feet) overlooking the Clamshell of the Shepaug River Valley, and back to campus on a date selected as close to possible to Frederick Gunn’s birthday on October 4.

  • Often, the actual date of the walk has been kept secret for the fun of surprising students with a day off from classes.

  • Students in Outdoor Stewardship set the course in advance and faculty monitor progress at checkpoints along the route

  •  The festivities conclude with a picnic lunch.