J-Crew Conquers Vermont

While many of their HBS classmates spent the long weekend of November 10-12 catching up on sleep or visiting friends in New York, Chris “Canada” McIsaac led an adventurous bunch from J-Crew on a trek to Stowe, Vermont. The group included Irina Zavina, Julie Bell, Chris McIsaac, Jeff Galvin, Ozgur Onder, Maureen Farrell, Diane McMahon, Velina Peneva, John Dwight (Tuck ’03), Melissa Gerling, Anthony Keizner, Ashley Bowling, Andre Martinelli, Pam Smith, Mary Moses (NE), Jean Hayden (NK), Deirdre Hollars (NK), and Lee Hambright (NF).

Saturday afternoon saw the group studiously analyzing assembly processes and cycle times on a tour of the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory. Throughout the visit, they peppered their hapless guide with questions that would have made any TOM professor proud:

Q: Does your production process involve any kitting?
A: What is “kitting?”
Q: Would you describe this system as “coupled and complex?”
A: “Ugh, it’s just ice cream.”
Q: Does Ben and Jerry’s use kanban cards?
A: “What?”

Thanks to this attention to detail-and, no doubt, hours of practice competing for airtime in section New K-Jean Hayden was able to successfully beat out a gaggle of pre-teens in answering a question about one of the production steps. For her quick reflexes and mental agility, she was promptly rewarded with a free quart of Chunky Monkey.
After the group returned to the cabin, the festivities really got going Saturday evening. First, they conjured up a veritable feast. Particularly impressive were the culinary skills of Irina Zavina and Julie Bell, who churned out plate-loads of Caesar salad, garlic bread, and pasta that would have made any Italian grandmother proud. Overly modest, the two master chefs demurely deflected every complement. “You guys, it’s just so easy!” insisted Zavina.

Even before the food had been digested, DJ Ozgur “O-Town” Onder started spinning, nearly blowing the roof off with a unique mix of Daft Punk, Bob Marley, Frank Sinatra, and the local top-40 radio station. As the whole cabin started grooving, an obviously awed Velina Peneva had to admit, “When I was a little girl growing up in communist Bulgaria, I never heard this sort of music. This is really what makes America special.”
On Sunday morning, the men were separated from the boys when the group split up to go for a hike. Andre Martinelli took the boys on a short jaunt near the cabin, before hastily returning for hot cocoa, with marshmallows. Meanwhile, the die-hard outdoorsmen-led by McIsaac, Peneva, and her boyfriend John Dwight, all conspicuous in their zip-off North Face climbing pants-embarked on a grueling three-hour march to the top of one of Vermont’s highest peaks, Mt. Hunger. Tumbles were common as they struggled against the gusting winds and rapidly accumulating snow. Though unable to join them for the weekend, veteran Section J mountaineer Hank Midgley couldn’t help but comment on the group’s achievement: “I’ve been on expeditions up some of the highest peaks and steepest ice faces in the world. But I’ve got to confess that I’ve never been able to conquer Vermont. Really, I’m humbled to hear that they managed to do it. Hats off to them.”

Clearly exhausted, J-Crew settled down after the hike for a more relaxed evening on Sunday night, sampling pizza, Jenga, and a few movies. Rumors are circulating about a bawdy late night game of “I never,” but all participants have been sworn to secrecy.

Monday morning, the crew awoke to three inches of snow, cleaned up the cabin, and then journeyed back to campus for yet another week of cases.