After hours

What happens when class is dismissed?

A weekend at Blakely is a field trip. Forest hikes and tide pooling take up most of the day, and in the evening, lectures and lab work trail on till dinner. But when the dinner bell is rung and dinner devoured, students have the rest of the night to themselves.

While dusk still yields light out, the first thing that students of Dr. Elena Brezynski’s “Introduction to Biology Attributes” anticipate is the lake.

Bobbing together, a floating huddle of students skirt the water on paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks. Sophomore integrated studies major Sarah Garvin finds the wide-open lake freeing from the day’s packed schedule.

Students boat across Spencer Lake after dinner. Photo: Micah Lim

“We’re in kayaks and canoes in the middle of a lake in the middle of an island. We did tide pools, so much lecture, a hike, and now we have free time for the first time since we got here, so we decided to sit in the middle of a lake. Jenna and I were thinking about jumping in, but maybe tomorrow morning,” Garvin said.

From one end of Spencer Lake and back, the sounds of laughter carry across the water. After every lifejacket is packed away and shoes are hung up to dry, the students head inside.

Spoons are arranged in a circle, one less than every player. The person who doesn’t grab a spoon in time is out. Photo: Micah Lim

Like a retreat center, the field station is also outfitted with a variety of activities, and it is a place to wind down. Inside the field station, encyclopedias sit alongside Apples to Apples, Connect Four, and Settlers of Catan. Decks of cards stack neatly next to Uno and Codenames.

Sophomore integrated studies major Olivia Pederson, opens the utensils drawer and pulls out a stack of spoons.

“To play you deal out cards and pass them to each other,”  Pederson said. “When someone matches four [cards] you’re supposed to grab a spoon from the middle [of the table] and if you don’t you’re out.”

Aptly named, spoons is a game of speed, like playing musical chairs, the cutlery clatters when someone slaps down a four-of-a-kind. Between games and the sound of spoons, others gather on the couches to sing songs. Hanging on the wall is an acoustic guitar and an ukulele.

From Taylor Swift to Disney Channel, song requests challenge muscle memory and chorus. Each catch tune brings voices together to sing along.

Upstairs in the dormitory, the fireplace crackles. Caretaker Brian Rodda leaves freshly chopped wood and kindle next to the cast iron fireplace.  As students stoke warmth in the common room, they spear marshmallows onto sticks, toasting or burning the Jet-Puffed to their liking.

Students gather around the fireplace to roast marshmallows. Photo: courtesy of Isabella Tranello.

Cozy with blankets, smores, and hot tea, the night ends. Students retire to their rooms with more lectures and hiking ahead of them. Surely, they will wake up and be back on the water and around the fire to do it all again.