Kiptopeke 2018 – Day Four

The 2021 EDI Fellows went to Kiptopeke for their first summer adventure.  Here is Olivia Danielson to describe our fourth day.  

Waking up around 6:00am, I got ready for our last day at Kiptopeke. After packing up clothes and other stray items around my room, I walked out into the living room. I grabbed some strawberries, raspberries, and cherries and sat down at the table with the rest of the Fellows for breakfast. Not a sound was made while we all ate our breakfast. As 8:00 drew closer, we washed the dishes and got ready for the day ahead.

First on our list was to finish spray painting the planter that Caitlin and I are building for Kiptopeke Elementary. We piled into the bus and drove over to the garage where our boxes laid. Caitlin and I spray painted the planter and then had to wait for the paint to dry.  We worked on finalizing the dimensions and design of the wood base for the hydroponic garden. The healthy debate was facilitated by sunscreen bottles and peanut butter, which served as markers for us to visualize our design. When the paint dried enough, we loaded both of the planters into the bus and drove to meet Ranger Bill, who had purchased the plants and soil.

Arriving at Kiptopeke Elementary, Caitlin and I carried our planter to the front of the Kiptopeke Elementary for all of the kids to see when they walk in everyday. We filled the planter with dirt and passion plants. After a few pictures with school administrators and Ranger Bill, we drove to Ebenezer AME Church so that the guys, Keon, AJ, Charlie, and Christopher, could set up their planter with dirt and passion plants as well.

When everyone was finished, we went to the Brown Dog to get ice cream. (We were told we could get ice cream one day, so why not make it our last.) I got 3 medium scoops in a cup, coffee, butterscotch, and vanilla. It was so good! We talked for a little bit in the shop then left for the bus to go back to the lodge. (Most of us were so tired and full of ice cream that we fell right asleep on the bus)

At the lodge, everyone had to clean up the whole cabin. The floors were swept, the kitchen was cleaned, and bags were put on the bus.Then we boarded the bus and headed back to NA. (Most of us slept on the way back as well.) When we got back to NA, we unloaded the food and brought tools and wood into the art room.

We began the second phase of our trip by brainstorming how to improve our design of the hydroponic garden that we started back at Kiptopeke. We had come up with a hexagon that had a triangular opening in the middle. The hardest part though was coming up with the amount of 2X4 boards that we needed to purchase. After we had come up with a list of supplies for  frame of the hydroponic garden, we went to Home Depot and gathered our supplies, the pieces of wood and a lot of screws. Bringing all of our supplies back to NA, we unloaded the wood and waited for our parents. While first part of our trip was coming to a close, the next part started tomorrow.

Kiptopeke 2018 – Day 2

The 2021 EDI Fellows went to Kiptopeke for their first summer adventure.  Here is Caitlin Johnson, describing our second day.  

At 7:30am on Monday, we ate breakfast, which consisted of cereal with almond milk, along with several other options: a granola bar or banana, and orange juice or water.  We finalized our designs for our planters and focused primarily on the shopping list for the project. We left for the hardware store at 8’oclock and purchased materials: wood, screws, plumbing components, waterproof seals for the wood, etc.  Park Ranger Bill met us at the OBS hardware store at 10am and then showed us around town for thirty minutes to help us gain a feel for the community. We stopped by Kiptopeke Elementary School and later stopped by the Ebenezer AME Church, both of which will be recipients of our planters.

We returned to Kiptopeke State Park and met Rangers Stan and August, who helped us with using joinery tools to construct the plant boxes. Park Ranger Stan helped us handle tools and measuring, and he also assisted in improving our structural support in the designs. AJ, Keon, Christopher, and Charlie settled on a hexagon design: two trapezoids which together form a single hexagon. The boys wanted to be able to transport it easily and hold as many plants as possible. Olivia and I decided to make a stair-like design, with plumbing to bring rain water to the plants and several layers to provide a better view of the plants as well. We ate lunch there around noon, and by 5:50pm, we headed back to the cabin to prepare dinner and reflect on Sunday and Monday.

Kiptopeke Poetry Corner – Keon

Keon Tavakoli ’21


Sincere Success

By Keon Tavakoli

In order to achieve you must first believe

You must have grit, you must have passion

You have to have a plan of action

Or else you will never truly succeed

However, failure is not fatal, success doesn’t last forever

Learn from every mistake

Be true to yourself in every decision you make

And you’ll be successful in every endeavor

Kiptopeke 2018 – Day 1

The 2021 EDI Fellows went to Kiptopeke for their first summer adventure.  Here is Keon Tavakoli, describing our first day.  

We, the 2021 EDI fellows, met at Norfolk Academy, where the parents said their final goodbyes and, as all mothers must do, they took a few pictures.

The EDI Fellows, along with Dr. Vallery and Dr. Call, then adjourned to Mr. Barton’s art studio, where we discussed the meal plan for the week. Before driving across the bridge-tunnel, we stopped at Kroger to pick up the necessary food and supplies. We finally arrived at our lodge, a large cabin, in the state park at around 3:30pm. We proceeded to unpack and organize the food in kitchen until five o’clock, when Park Ranger Bill arrived at our lodge.

Bill Dyas a.k.a. Ranger Bill, Park Interpreter at Kiptopeke State Park,  discussed the history of the park, including the many times of tension between African American and white citizens on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Ranger Bill finally revealed our project: a 2-ft planter for indigenous plants, to highlight native plants to the local population and symbolize the coming together of the community. After the discussion, we reflected for 30 minutes to an hour on planter designs and ideas. On the 30-minute bus ride to dinner, we continued to discuss our designs and formed two teams- Caitlin and Olivia and

Christopher, Charlie, AJ, and Keon – the classic boys vs. girls. Upon arriving at the restaurant, we placed our name on the waiting list and proceeded to wait an hour and a half before being seated.  While we waited, we played cornhole and glimpsed three hog nose rays at the Shanty dock.  The EDI Fellows, along with Drs. Vallery and Call, immediately placed our orders and had some sparkling conversations about our trip, leading to conversations about vacations, and the Leadership Lab, a prior school camping trip.

When we ultimately arrived at our cabin, we played a fun game brought by Dr. Call. Finally, after a long and tiring day, we fell asleep.