Friends of OA Newsletter
Thirty Years of Outdoor Action - 1974 - 2004
|Group BF28 takes a break along the trail in the Black Forest in Pennsylvania|
Frosh Trip number 30 was a tremendous success. Five hundred ninety-nine men and women from the Class of 2007 participated in 75 six-day trips. Two hundred and two leaders, forty Support Team members and ten Command Center Managers, the largest numbers ever assembled, pulled off another great trip.
It takes all summer to get ready for Frosh Trip. Seventy-five routes to plan, campsite permits, thousands of pounds of food to order, seventeen buses, twenty mini-vans, hundreds of backpacks and sleeping bags, one hundred fifty stoves to repair, fifteen hundred pounds of GORP to pack; the list goes on and on.
Thanks to the hard work by this summer's Frosh Trip CoordinatorsMeghan Bruce '05, Tim Churchill '05, Dylan Fitz '05 and Brent Scharschmidt '05we had the smoothest running trip ever. Now it wasn't without challenges. For those of you on the east coast you may remember it was raining from Virginia to Vermont Monday through Thursday of Frosh Trip. Everyone pulled together, snuggling under tarps to stay dry and looking stylish in their black garbage bags turned raingear.
Alison Pieja '04, a leader trainer from Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, shows that the challenges of difficult weather only brought people closer together on this year's Frosh Trip.
"God bless you!"
Never before have those cheerful words sounded so ominous as when they were spoken by the local ranger on the second day of the trip as he strode back to his truck, having informed us that we were about to be inundated by rain.
We were plunging further into the wilderness with nothing to protect us from the elements save two somewhat leaky tarps and an assortment of raingear ranging from cheap slickers to windbreakers to garbage bags. It was the first full day of Frosh Trip, and already the rain was picking up with no hope of clear sky for days. With the ranger's words "watch for flash floods" ringing in my ears, my co-leaders and I surveyed our group, many of whom had never been backpacking before, let alone in the middle of major rain. It was going to be a tough week.
|Alison Pieja's group L45 after their trip with co-leaders
Brian Henn '05 and Jon Pym '06
Four days and twenty inches of rain later, back on campus, I exchanged confused and exhilarated glances with my co-leaders as we stared down at a cake bearing the message "we love you," a surprise token of our frosh's appreciation. And I knew that it was all worth it.
This was my third time leading an OA Frosh Trip, and it was by far the most challenging and yet the most rewarding. The ranger had been correct in his predictionit had rained just about every night and day, with an occasional thunderstorm to spice things up a little.
One thing I will say about the conditionsthey certainly helped to improve my wilderness skills. Between my co-leaders and I, we can now erect a (relatively) leak-proof tarp over the group in two minutes flat, hang a bearproof bear bag in the pouring rain, and untie virtually any saturated knot on a plastic bag full of oranges. After fording more streams in one hour than I'd encountered in all of my previous OA trips (and also falling down more times than on all of my previous OA trips), I'm expert at stream crossings (and on where not to step).
But aside from the obvious physical challenges the conditions presented, there was also the much more important challenge of keeping up the group dynamic. We had to keep the group dry and warm and well-fed (an easy enough task with OA cuisine), but we also had to keep them happy. Fortunately, the group seemed to take this task upon themselves.
Working together on the steep sections - PA64 on the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania
Somewhere between the wet socks and the stinging nettles, the waterfalls and the foggy views, we adopted our "hard-core" motto and began to relish the challenge we were faced with. Not that there weren't a few wistful comments about that first heavenly shower or the inconceivable luxury of a dry bed, but I can't recall a single complaint the entire trip. As I listened to our frosh during a mid-trip debrief, a grin stole over my face at the happy and enthusiastic feedback. As my co-leader and I fixed the tarp that night, trying to prevent a river from running through it, we found that we no longer even minded the rain pelting our backs.
And when the final day of our trip dawned with the sun on the horizon, I vowed to never again take it for granted. True, the last day presented us with the additional challenge of making up lost mileage, encountering a rattlesnake, and bushwhacking where the now-raging river had washed out the trail, but we just took it in stride. After all, the sun was shining.
Leaving the restaurant back on campus, I for the first time began to appreciate the magnitude of what we had done. Leading any frosh trip takes a bit of skill and patience, but this was a trip to try even the most seasoned leaders. Just coming through it was a feat, let alone coming through it with nine happy frosh, two amazing co-leaders, and eleven incredible new friends. I smiled to myselffor the first time in six days, it was time to truly relax.
Africa, Sex Ed, and the Outdoors
by Krissy Scurry '04
I spent the summer of 2002 in Oshakati, Namibia, on the border of Angola, teaching Grade 11 English with a program called World Teach. In my area, it was estimated that more than 70% of high school students were HIV positive by the time they graduated. These numbers seemed high, but then five of the 18 girls in my class took leaves of absence because they were pregnant. It was clear that an overwhelming majority of high school students were sexually active and not using condoms. How could they be having unprotected sex when so many around them are infected with HIV? The typical response to this problem by international NGOs has been to assume that young people in Africa simply don't know about AIDS. NGOs bombard their countries with posters, free condoms, and advertising campaigns. We tell them that "AIDS KILLS." We explain the transmission process and how not to get AIDS. Yet the number of HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa soars because we have missed the mark.
These young people know that AIDS kills. They have watched their uncles, aunts, cousins, and even parents die from AIDS. Namibia has the third highest HIV prevalence rates in the world. Furthermore, these learners know that they could get pregnant if they have unprotected sex. Their classmates are pregnant, but none of this scares them. Sexual education must go farther than awareness. We cannot convince teenagers to stop having sex by telling them that it is bad for them.
Inspired by my experience in Namibia, I spent the spring semester of 2003 in South Africa studying young people's sexual behavior and analyzing sexual education programs. It should be no surprise to Outdoor Action leaders that outdoor programs can be an effective forum to raise the confidence needed for behavior change. The Department of Education in the Western Cape is currently considering a regional outdoor program for secondary school students. Kids from townships, many of whom have never left the township, will be taken to the mountains. Away from busyness and school, they will have the opportunity to collectively reflect on what's important to them. Hiking, camping, solos, and principles like challenge by choice may give them more confidence as they build a team of peers with whom they can tackle challenges at home. As one of the directors of this program told me, "you climb a mountain, and you feel like you can do and be anything you want. And then you look back at the challenges you overcame to climb that mountain, and the challenges at home don't seem so daunting."
Young people everywhere are not very concerned with their long-term future. But the adolescent tendency not to think long-term is exasperated when the future is put into question by disease, unrest, or violence, all of which are prevalent in Southern Africa. They are more concerned with their immediate risks like peer and community pressure and sexual coercion, than they are with long-term health. The best sexual education programs recognize that the real reason young people are having unprotected sex is not their lack of knowledge. Knowledge does not lead to behavior change. But confidence, futures-oriented education, and sexual education that offer choices can. If a program refrains from lecturing young people on their behavior and encourages them to consider their future themselves, the program can empower young people to make healthy decisions.
Krissy Scurry is a senior OA Leader from New York. She is a HEART CPR Instructor and one of founders of PACT - Princeton Against Cancer Together, a student organization working to raise awareness and funds develop cures for cancer. She is planning on attending law school next year.
|"Ready to Go" - BF26 in Pennsylvania||Group L43 - proudly displaying their group flag and full value contract|
This year we expanded our pre-Frosh Trip Training for leaders. We’ve been doing the “Leave a Trace” program for the last four years as a way to help leaders think about the important responsibility that they have for mentoring incoming students about life at Princeton. The two areas that we focused on this year were diversity and alcohol. Thanks to support from a new program on campus, Dialogue@Princeton which facilitates discussions of race and culture, we did an afternoon of experiential activities that helped leaders understand the diversity of the incoming class and how they could create an inclusive atmosphere on the trip that values the diversity of the group.
The other area that we focused on was alcohol. There are always lots of questions frosh ask leaders about the social scene and alcohol at Princeton. Because of this we feel that it is critically important for leaders to present an accurate and balanced view of drinking on campus. This year we were lucky to have Joey Murphy ’02 be able to come back and talk from his perspective as former Alcohol Peer Educator. Joey impressed upon leaders their responsibility to tackle this difficult issue and leaders found it extremely helpful. With over half the incoming class participating each year, the Frosh Trip is a great vehicle for setting a healthy tone for freshmen year. Other colleges are starting to adopt the OA Leave a Trace approach as part of their wilderness orientation program.
Another major milestone for OA—after thirty (dirty) years in the basement of 48 University Place—the OA Equipment Room, affectionately known as the ER, has moved. 48 University Place is undergoing a major renovation and the ER has been semi-permanently relocated to space in the Armory formerly occupied by McCarter Theater. It is significantly larger than the old space, provides enough space for trip packing and unpacking, a meeting space for trip planning, and a large cleaning and repair area including sink, dishwasher, washer and dryer. The Equipment Room opens up to the scene building area used by the Tech Department from the Theater & Dance Program and they have been kind enough to let us spill out into that space. Thanks to the extra space, at the end of Frosh Trip groups checked directly back into the Armory instead of to the basement of Jadwin Gym. The next day gear was just rolled into the Equipment Room. In previous years we had to load it all into vans, drive it over to 48 University Place, unload it and put it away.
In July the OA Office moved from the Helm Building at 330 Alexander Street next door to 350 Alexander Street The new space is much larger than our old office and we have enough space for the four summer Frosh Trip Coordinators.
And last but not least, after ten years of freezing cold climbing in the Armory during the winter months, the climbing wall is getting heat. The Facilities Department is installing a gas heater in the ceiling which will make the facility functional for year-round climbing. The heater will be in by December. To celebrate we are having an open session at the Climbing Wall on Alumni Day, February 21, 2004 from 2:00 - 5:00 PM.
The end of the 2003 academic year was extremely busy with events at Reunions and Commencement. On Friday evening we offered a range of events for children from the 25th Reunion Class—(1978). The Class of 1978 was the very first Frosh Trip Class so from here on in every 25th Reunion Class will include Frosh Trip alumni. On Saturday we hosted Bill Plonk ’83 talking about his Appalachian Trail thru-hike and Christine Clarke ’83 at the annual Josh Miner ’43 Experiential Education Award Panel. On Sunday we hosted our annual reception for graduating senior OA Leaders and their parents. Over 100 attended the event which offered a chance for parents to meet the OA Program Director and for student leaders to meet their friends’ families.
Come back and join us May 27-29, 2004 for a full range of OA activities and speakers as part of our 30th Anniversary celebration at Reunions.
This year’s Josh Miner award winner at Reunions was Christine Clarke ’83. The award is presented each year at Reunions to an alumnus(a) who has made significant contributions to the field of outdoor or experiential education. Christine was the keynote panelist at the Josh Miner Award Panel. Below is the award citation.
Christine Clarke ’83 brings a deep sense of purpose coupled with disciplined pragmatism to directing Strathcona Park Lodge & Outdoor Education Centre (SPL), a role she has shared for the past 10 years with husband Jamie Boulding. Founded in 1959 by the visionary Boulding Family, Christine has held strategic, financial, and administrative reins to enable privately owned SPL to remain Canada’s premier outdoor education center, in a competitive environment populated by public and non-profit institutions. SPL’s programs, (including the renowned Canadian Outdoor Leadership Training Semester) ‘teach the wonder, spirit and worth of people and the natural world through outdoor pursuits.’ Programs nurture an ability to respond creatively on a local level to global issues by enhancing a sense of belonging—as expressed through the Strathcona Circle of values (stewardship, more with less, challenge by choice, living on the edge, the Happy Warrior, and generosity of spirit).
For more information about the Josh Miner ’43 award see www.princeton.edu/~oa/alumni/miner.shtml
Thanks to the budget surplus that we generated last year OA has been able to hire a half-time secretary. Kerstin Tschiedel started working on April 15. She is keeping track of all financial transactions, compiling the monthly budget statements, handling purchasing, alumni donations, database entry, phone contacts, etc. All of these tasks were previously handled by the Program Director. Thanks to Kerstin’s help there is much more time to be spent on program development and leader training.
Thanks to the efforts of Dave Follette ’04, OA has completed our first video. The video is based on three years of footage. Scenes shot by Martha Otis in 2000, footage from George Howard ’02 shot for the University Admissions video in 2001 and scenes shot this past year. The video is seven minutes long and focuses on the Frosh Trip experience. The video was “premiered” at April Hosting for prospectives from the Class of 2007. It is available on the OA Web site at www.princeton.edu/~oa/ft in Windows Media and RealPlayer formats. Dave is working on the second version of the video to include footage about the OA Leader Training Program.
Thirty years of wilderness adventures is something to celebrate and the very best way to do that is to have another wilderness adventure. For OA’s 30th we have booked the entire Appalachian Mountain Club Highland Lodge at Crawford Notch in the White Mountains for Wednesday, July 21 - Sunday, July 25, 2004. The brand new Highland Lodge has 120 beds in a superb rustic setting in the heart of the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. Full lodging and meals will be provided.
With the Whites at our doorstep there will be opportunities for a full range of day activities including trail hikes, nature walks, canoeing, rock climbing, and more. Children’s activities at the Lodge and surrounding area mean that this is a great opportunity for the whole family. In the evenings we’ll gather after a hearty dinner to exchange tales of early OA days, watch slide shows, and hear from other alumni speakers.
Take your best memories of an OA trip of twelve people, multiply it tenfold and imagine how much fun you’ll have sharing and reconnecting with the extended OA family. Our anniversary celebration is open to all OA alumni leaders, friends of OA, family members, and current students and their parents. It will be a multi-generational extravaganza.
We are still finalizing costs and schedule and will mail you out a detailed registration package after the first of the year. Save the dates on your calendar now. To help us with planning check the I am interested in the OA 30th Anniversay event box on your Friends of OA form. You bring your hiking boots, we’ll bring the GORP and S’mores.
Send us your latest stories and tidbits for Tiger Trails on the enclosed membership form.
Robert “Brownie” Schoene ’68 from Seattle is currently the President of the Wilderness Medical Society (www.wms.org) an organization of health care professionals dedicated to education, research, and stewardship of the wilderness experience and environment.
David Lyon ’71 writes, “Thanks in large part to the 1997 and 1999 Mt. Princeton climbs, I started hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. In 17 months so far, I've bagged 46 of the 48 and have taken winter hiking classes too. There was no OA when I was at Princeton, but it still has had a major impact on my life! Thanks.
Jane Clewe ’77 writes, “I continue to climb occasionally with my local outdoors club, Wilderness Women. My life partner Debbie and I also enjoy scuba diving, kayaking, skiing, motorcycling, and travel. Next year we are headed to China for a scuba diving trip with our gay/lesbian scuba diving club.”
In February of 2002 Bill Plonk ’83 (trail name “TigerPaw”) started an epic hike on the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain, Georgia. Using ultralight hiking gear Bill hiked for 2,168 miles ending at Mt. Katahdin, Maine. During Reunions “TigerPaw” gave a wonderful slide show and talk entitled Hiking the Appalachian Trail – The Light Way about his incredible adventures on the trail, planning a long distance hiking trip, and about the ultralight hiking revolution.
Todd Laurence ’86 writes, “I introduced my wife Monica and our three children (6, 4, 2) to the joys of camping last October. Everybody loved it—even my ratatouille won kudos! I can’t wait until the kids are big enough to carry packs.”
John “JJ” Strouse ’91 writes, “No trips with tents, but I am back in school. For the research years of my pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship I started a Ph.D. in clinical investigation at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.”
Naomi Darling ’96 writes, “I love living here in Seattle surrounded by the mountains and ocean. Last winter I built a Baidarka, a native Aleutian skin sea kayak, and went on a great paddling trip in the Gulf Islands of Canada.”
Amy Gladfelter ’96 and Mark Borsuk ’95 write, “We continue to enjoy our lives as post-docs in Basel, Switzerland. Nearly every weekend we explore the ‘wanderwegs’ that cross the Swiss countryside. We have an extra room for friends seeking fresh Swiss air, cheese and chocolate!”
Cecily Baskir ’96 put her OA skills to use on several hiking and camping trips during a recent trip to New Zealand and Australia. She says the Abel Tasman Coastal Track on the South Island in New Zealand would make a great Frosh Trip.
Gillian Baine ’02 writes, “I am working on an organic fruit and vegetable farm in the central Pacific highlands of Costa Rica. We take lots of jungle hikes and are working towards opening a small eco-tourist retreat in the mountains. OA Rules!”
Meghan Brown ’02 writes, “Last Spring, 7 other teachers at my school in the Bronx and I wrote a grant proposal for an experiential education project. It was accepted by an organization called Christodora, who granted us $17,000 and allowed me to spend three days up at the Manice Education Center in Florida, MA doing outdoor group building activities and on-site ecology lessons with my class and the Manice staff. By the end of the month, over 120 students from my school will have participated in the course. The whole idea had been spurred by my experience with OA and Blairstown, so you can credit yourself in part with the inspiration of a bunch of kids from the South Bronx to appreciate and explore the outdoors.” Meghan is completing her second year of teaching in the South Bronx with Teach for America.
A recent OA mini-reunion was held at the Wilderness Risk Management Conference in State College, PA. In attendance were Darcy Williams Turner former OA Program Coordinator, Jim Garrett ’65, Rick Curtis ’79, Katherine Byers ’00, and spouses Chris Beeson ’99 and Katie Baum ’01.
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James Garrett ’65
Bruce Wallace ’67
Phebe Miner S’43
Steve Boyd ’55
John Kauffmann ’45
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