Visiting Berchtesgaden and the Obersalzburg will set the group deep into the historical origins of the Nazi regime with Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest looming above. Traveling into the Salzburg and Pinzgau region of Austria, we will visit castles HohenWerfen and Hohensalzburg Festung and encounter the rich medieval history of the 12th-century Investiture Controversy. We will be joined by local Austrian students from the Gymnasium Saalfelden to hike up and over the Stone Sea from Germany into Austria, spending our evenings in mountain huts and exploring the unique geology of the land, the flora and fauna it yields, and the myths and lore that continue to influence alpine culture today.
Also known as St. John’s Eve, Sonnenwende is a local Christian tradition dating back to the region’s pagan Celtic origins, marking both the midsummer’s day and the solstice. We will celebrate in the mountains with bonfires and festivities and then live and work at Gymnasium Saalfelden.
Simultaneously, students will participate in Lawrenceville’s experiential Harkness Travel Leadership curriculum that emphasizes intentional student research contributions to the experience. It includes rotating daily responsibilities such as leader of the day, navigator, journalist, photo-journalist, logistics coordinator, resource manager, etc. This process will develop individual authenticity and important collaborative skills like communication, problem-solving, conflict resolution, and decision-making. As a group, students will be required to care for one another and work together as they address the challenges that come in the backcountry and in communal living. They will be asked to reflect on their roles and their place within the group and how their individual actions and decisions can impact the whole in both positive and negative ways. Time for journaling will allow for a mindful exploration of self and place- based insights as well as critical analysis of the historic and environmental elements of the program.
From the high shrills of the marmot, to the silent presence of the mountain goats, to fields of flowers and deep carved chasms, the region is filled with natural beauty. If this type of adventure sounds exciting, then this is the trip for you!