With bells continuously ringing, all campus e-mails sent and students yelling throughout the dorms, the Williams College community awoke to classes being cancelled on Friday, October 12 in celebration of the 173-year-old tradition of Mountain Day.
And with beautiful weather and many organized activities, the event proved to be quite a success.
“It was the largest Mountain Day in my nine years [at Williams],” said Scott Lewis, director of the Williams Outing Club (WOC).
The central idea of Mountain Day was for the community to enjoy the natural beauty of the Purple Valley.
“All you had to do is breathe slowly,” said Lewis. “The Outing Club role was to simply facilitate that [idea]. All we wanted to do is provide some guided ways to enjoy the day.”
Baxter Lawn was the site of the opening Mountain Day festivities in the morning with musical performances from a varied and diverse set of student musical groups. Additionally, WOC sponsored rock climbing on the corner of Chapin Hall, in which around 25 students participated.
In the afternoon, the focus of Mountain Day was shifted to Stony Ledge, a scenic overlook of the mountains of the Purple Valley. There, students and faculty enjoyed performances by more student groups while eating donuts, drinking apple cider and enjoying the view. To get to Stony Ledge, the Outing Club provided the option of sponsored organized hikes or bus and van shuttles.
“Mountain Day was a complete success,” said Bailey McCallum ’01, WOC president. “We estimate that over 600 people participated in the activities of day, including an excellent showing from both students and faculty.”
“There are many avenues to education,” said Lewis. “One of the special things about Williams is they value education in all forms.”
In celebration of Mountain Day, all classes and several athletic practices were cancelled for the day.
“We have called off practice and the whole team is out here hiking on various hikes,” said Graham Garber ’97, head coach of the alpine skiing team. “It’s a chance to do something different. I have no qualms about canceling practice today and I think that it is a great thing to cancel practice for a day and do something different.”
For many students, the celebration of Mountain Day was very enjoyable.
“I felt like I want to take advantage of the mountains that I have not yet taken advantage of while I’ve been here,” said Keiller Kyle’03. “It is a very good, refreshing and cleansing way to get away from work and stress and that’s why I am here.”
“I’m having a really good time; the weather is really nice,” said Chris Vollmond-Carstens ’04. “The only problem is that I am hearing talk about homework and classes and that’s not cool. This is all about Mountain Day and enjoying the weather and having some cider once we got to the top and talking about classes, I don’t know if I agree with that.”
“I think that it’s very easy for students to get involved in a routine that they do day in and day out, week in and week out and it just kind of shakes things up a little bit and that’s refreshing and I think that is what this day is about,” said Garber.
In order to prepare for Mountain Day, many people worked hard to plan and prepare for this celebration. Dining Services played a key role by preparing boxed lunches for the student body.
“If they couldn’t come up with box lunches on really short notice, it would have made things very difficult,” said Williams.
Additionally, WOC worked hard to organize the events of Mountain Day.
“I would really like to give credit to the Outing Club Board – especially Bailey McCallum ‘01 and Heather Matthews ’02 – those two students really did a lot to make it smooth running and enjoyable,” said Lewis.
But not all of the events went as planned.
“Traditionally the bells were rung [to announce Mountain Day],” added Lewis. However, the bell ringer overslept and failed to ring the bells. “Fortunately, Cathryn Christensen’01, an Outing Club board member, went and rang the bells. We were really upset the bell ringer slept in.”