On a bitterly cold day in New England, Explo Headquarters joined forces with devoted alumni around the globe to celebrate Explo Spirit Day 2013. Held annually on the third Wednesday in January, Explo Spirit Day provides Explo alumni--students, faculty, staff--a chance to demonstrate pride by wearing Explo colors, Explo lanyards, and other Explo props and gear. Capped off by a multi-category photo contest, this year’s Explo Spirit Day was a lively worldwide reunion of Explo folks young, very very young, not-quite-as-young, and canine.

Originally founded and annually organized by super alumnus David Gumins, Explo Spirit Day generally attracts upwards of a thousand participants. Fueled by the Facebook group My Life is Explo (MLIE), the mission of Explo Spirit Day is to recpature the magic of Explo and demonstrate enthusiasm for the Explo community in a fun and tangible way.

Dear Explo: Not a day goes by that I don’t think of thee! Happy ESD. May there be many more sessions for us to attend! MLIE.

This year, we received photos from Colombia, Connecticut, Japan, Florida, Massachusetts, and more. Students attended school in their lanyards and headbands, faculty members went to work in visors and sunglasses, and full-time Explo employees, dressed head-to-toe in orange, and congregated at HQ for a brainstorm on courses (and ate an orange lunch.).

When I look at the posters on my wall and the lanyards on my neck, I'm reminded of how lucky I am to have met everyone at Explo. I love you guys!

At Explo, being spirited and silly is serious business. Our fearless leader donned an orange jumpsuit for the occasion, while Program Heads swathed themselves in orange drapery, ate neon orange cheeseballs, and pushed a monkey in an orange stroller, respectively. In other bubbles of celebration, student alumni wore handmade Explo Iggy sweatpants and manicured their nails in summer color. Explo “lifers” proudly displayed collections of lanyards, while those newer to the family clutched reverently to their first.

Keep the light shining, Explo!
To those who haven’t attended an Explo program before, this kind of enthusiasm might seem a bit hard to comprehend. But for countless Explo staff, students, and families, Explo is much more than a fun summer experience (though it is that too). Explo offers students an unrivaled community of warmth, welcome, acceptance, and joy. Students and families choose Explo for a variety of reasons, come to Explo with a host of hopes, and depart changed forever and for the better. The excitement for Explo Spirit Day is proof that you don’t ever have to “leave” Explo. Not really.

Explo was my home for the past three summers...the best of my life. Looking through all these pictures makes me wish I could spend all year in a place as welcoming, caring, and fun as Explo.
Did you miss the big day? Fear not. It’s always the right time to show your Explo pride. Snap a pic and send it to alumni@explo.org to get in on the action, check out the Spirit Day slideshow, and stay tuned for this year’s photo contest winners.