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  • Wonjin Eum

Expo struggle time stamp: what really happened?

On March 14th, half of the sophomore students in Stevenson fell in shock: Expo was getting canceled. So many emotions, rumors, and confusions have arisen since. What exactly happened that day? Galen Merigliano speaks about his experience as one of the head directors of the Sophomore Wilderness Expedition.

An expo group ready to hike!

2:01pm : The cancellation email. Henry Coe park sends an email to Bob McCormick: “Unfortunately, we are not good to go. District management said safety concerns, high creek levels, lack of safe practices and passing, no rescue vans, flooding, storm damage, no emergency air support, and the list goes on. We are sorry and happy to help you reschedule.” Merigliano further explains the disappointment, “This was three days after we checked in with them that the park was going to be open.”

2:30pm : Receiving the notice. Merigliano pulls out the shocking memory from two months ago: “This was the day that three of the gates were closed, and I have been driving around Pebble Beach, trying to pick up food that will be used during the solo periods. In the midst of that, I got a text message from Bob.” He recollects that “in retrospect, this was good timing because we were able to get out of the forest where we were stuck for 45 minutes.”

3am during expo be like...

2:38pm : Stages of grief. “First was a sense of denial. I just could not believe the Expo was actually getting canceled. However, as I was driving back, reality started to sink in.” Merigliano speaks of his personal experience that “it was hard for me to process this all at once, so the situation did not quite hit me until I walked into the room with all the Expo leaders to discuss the next step. After that, it was real. This is happening. What do we do next? I did not focus on trying to figure out what this meant long term, rather thought of what to do next.”

3:00pm : Sorting things out. “We met with all of the adult Expo leaders and talked through the situation and how to proceed. This first meeting took about an hour and a half, but the next four days were essentially Eric Olson, Bob McCormick, and I constantly talking about the issue.”

Taking a mid-hike break!

6:06pm : Potential solutions. “We went through what felt like everything multiple times, which is why it took us so long to figure out the best plan. I remember there was a lot of student and faculty support during the process of going through all the potential alternatives, and we really appreciated it.” Merigliano also spoke on the actual solutions they were thinking about: “the first initial question in the brainstorming session was where else can we go? We were all set to go, so can we find a different location? There were so many ideas we had: doing it local, maybe camping, and even on campus. We also called the park and double checked if there is any possibility of exceptions that we could hope for. In a desperate sense, we were hoping that the atmospheric river caution might not happen and maybe the park will be open again.”

Furthermore, he states one of the strong options for a solution: “Pinnacles was the only option for us to go during the time slot, but we would have had to divide the crew into three for only an overnight camping trip. We did not think it would be the best idea to do so since it does not provide the full Expo experience.”After acknowledging the limitations of trying to do it that week, Merigliano explains about the next thoughts: “The question was, do we do something that is not as good and provide a consolation, or do we make a pivot and try to fit this into an X-term schedule. The only problem with postponing it to X-term was that it was all figured out. In fact, the decision list was going to be sent out before Expo.”

The group on a refreshing dip in the lake

Bob McCormick, the head director of the Sophomore Wilderness Expedition, expresses his excitement about this May on a hopeful note: “We are excited for this opportunity to shift the expedition to a later time of the year. It offers an opportunity for different weather conditions and interesting new challenges for sophomores, staff, and coleaders alike.”


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