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Winter, 2000
Friends of OA Newsletter

Celebrating 25 Years of Outdoor Action

This has been a wonderful year of celebration looking back over a quarter century of Outdoor Action activities. I want to thank all of you who were able to join us for one of the many 25th anniversary events. Of all of the events, I think that the "fireside chat" with some of OA's founders held at the September Reunion at Blairstown captured the spirit of what this program has meant to so many. I looked out at scores of people representing all the different generations of OA leaders. People like Steve Boehkle '70 and Andy Brown '69 who got OA started, married couples who met through OA, all the way up to current student leaders who had just led their first Frosh Trip a few weeks before. I realized all of the ripples that this program has had on the lives of so many people. Take a look at the last page of the newsletter to see how many people have been involved.

Think about the people that trained you and what you learned from them. Then think of all the people that you led on your trips, many who got their first exposure to the outdoors through your efforts. Think about your participants who went on to become leaders and then led or trained others. Ripples upon ripples upon ripples. We should all be really proud of the legacy that we have all been a part of. Each new trip brings people together to learn about themselves, each other, and the outdoors building self-confidence, trust, and sharing. Some of your words say it best.

"I had done quite a bit of backpacking before coming to Princeton and it had helped me in many ways to become a more confident person. On my Frosh trip, I had such a wonderful experience with leaders I really looked up to. I wanted to become an OA leader to try to help others have the same experience, to learn that they are capable of more than they thought they could do, to gain an appreciation for the outdoors. Also, I know it would be another challenge for me that would help me grow in leadership ability."

"I always said that I owed OA immensely for everything the organization allowed me to do and become while at Princeton; without Rick and my closest OA introduced friends, I would not have been introduced to many of what are now my passions, nor been able to enjoy them with such an energetic and special cadre of incredible people."

Read what others have to say about OA. Thanks for all of your energy and devotion to the program for all these years. Happy holidays.

Rick Curtis '79 - Director, Outdoor Action

Reunions '99

Reunions '99 was OA's most successful Reunions Program ever. As part of the celebration of OA's 25th Anniversary we set up our own Reunions site under two new tents just outside the 25th Reunion Headquarters next to Blair Arch. This was a highly visible location and brought lots of traffic of old friends and people signing up for trips. We had over 300 people participate in activities that included rock climbing, canoeing, kayaking, nature hikes, and the tree tour. This year also brought some very special alumni presentations. Chuck Demarest '64, the only Princetonian to summit Mt. Everest, gave an engaging slide presentation on his 1998 Everest Environmental Expedition. Katie Gamble '98, Bethany Coates '98, and Meg Smith '98, three members of the Climb Against the Odds team which climbed Mt. McKinley with a group of breast cancer survivors gave a talk about their expedition and showed slides and a portion of the PBS documentary. Following the Josh Miner '43 Award Panel, 60 alumni(ae) joined us for the annual Friends of OA reception. All told over 600 people participated in OA activities (that's a whole Frosh Trip!).

We received a great many complements from alumni about our activities, especially parents who really appreciated having something for their kids to do. The students who staffed the table and led trips said alumni asked lots of questions about OA and what the program offers. This was wonderful exposure for OA and our programs.

Mt. Princeton Anniversary Climb

Mt. Princeton - 14,197 feet

Mt. Princeton

Three-thirty a.m., a loud bang on the door, "Time to get up!" That's how the day started, Friday, July 16, 1999 as a sleepy band of hikers struggled out of bed, put on hiking boots and loaded up day packs for the long ascent.

Climbers on teh way back down from Mt. Princeton

The "Dudes" - Taylor Kimberly '96, Josh Roman '97, Jud Brewer '96, and Pete Schwartz *96 on the way down from Mt. Princeton.

This year's Mt. Princeton Climb was a spectacular success. We had 56 people staying at the rustic Ponderosa Lodge in Salida, Colorado. There was a wonderful feeling of community that developed among the guests as Princetonians from the Class of '45 to the Class of '03 interacted. For the actual climb we were joined by another 60 participants for a total of 110 climbers for Friday, July 16. The weather cooperated and thanks to good organization and logistics, 72 of 110 made it to the summit!

Climbers at Checkpint 3 on Mt. Princeton

Mt. Princeton - Checkpoint 3 at 11,800 feet
Emily Getnick, Dick Getnick '64, Pam Getnick '93

As climbers reached the summit, up-slope fog rose from the valley capping the summit with a cloud. But that didn't deter the climbers or Greg Barton '95 who proposed to his fiancée Julie Hill on the summit. She said yes! People loved the cross-generational aspect of the climb and remarked over and over on how well organized everything was. Based on the success of our two climbs of Mt. Princeton we are going to offer this event every two years. Mark your calendars for Mt. Princeton 2001 - July 17 - 22, 2001. For more details and photos of this year's climb check out the Mt. Princeton Climb Web page.

The Ponderosa Crew 1999

The Ponderosa Lodge gang at Mt. Princeton.

OA 25th Anniversary Reunion at Blairstown

It was really fitting to celebrate 25 years of OA at the place where OA first began, Princeton-Blairstown Center. One hundred alumni, family, students, and friends joined us for a spectacular weekend at Blairstown. Most people camped out in tents on the property to "get back" to their OA roots (or just to sleep on some). Saturday's activities included canoeing and kayaking on the lake, nature hikes, a trail maintenance project, the climbing wall, high ropes course and low ropes course. Little kids were everywhere. The end of the day was the fabulous "Eco-challenge." Due to people laughing so hard we only managed two events, a hands-paddling canoe race across the lake and a water balloon toss. Both were wet events for some. The first heat of the canoe race saw a lot of sunken canoes!

That evening was a great barbecue followed by a fireside chat with some of the people who started OA including Steve Boelhke '70, Andy Brown '69, Rusty Frye '75, Cate Huisman '75, Bill Katen-Narvell '76, and Ed Seliga '75. It was wonderful to hear what happened in those early days and for everyone to realize how much the program has grown in the last 25 years. We also honored those folks for their vision in starting OA.

Afterwards a number of people including OA board members Keith Ely '79 and Ed Seliga '75 treated us to some historic slides of OA's past. A night hike followed that ended at a campfire on the far side of the lake with, of course, S'mores. Sunday there were more activities in camp and some out of camp including a day hike on the Appalachian Trail, canoeing on the Delaware River, and rock climbing at Millbrook Rocks. Everyone raved about the weekend both in terms of fun and how much it helped him or her reconnect with OA. For photos of this year's climb check out the OA Reunion Web page. 

The feeling was unanimous that we do this more often than every 25 years. So mark you calendars now for OA Reunion 2000 - September 23-25, 2000 at Blairstown. After that we plan to offer an alumni weekend at Blairstown every other year (this will mean that the Reunion will be on even years and the Mt. Princeton climb on odd years).

OA friends and family celebrate at Blairstown.

Cate Huisman '75 prepares to leap!

Cate Huisman '75, former OA Program Director, gets ready to go for it! 

Hanging out on the porch at Blairstown

Hangin' on the porch at Blairstown - Chris Shepard '98, Mark Borsuk '95, Kristen Fountain '96, and Amy Gladfelter '96

Andy Reumann-Moore and future OAers

Andrew Reumann-Moore '83 and OA's next generation.

The great canoe race!

The great "Eco-challenge" at Blairstown.

OA 25th Reunion at Blairstown - The Crew

Jim Garrett `65
Andy Brown `69
Warren Elmer `69
Steve Boehlke `70
Rusty Frye `75
Cate Huisman `75
Ed & Debbie Seliga `75
Bill Katen-Narvell `76
Rick Curtis `79
Keith Ely `79
Walt Hallagan `79
Armistead Webster `79
Donald Chandler `81
Helene & Paul Ferm `81
Jason Gold `81
Ted & Michelle Beatty `83
Peter Ellis `83
Bill & Beth Plonk `83
Andrew & Rebecca Reumann-Moore `83
John McNerney `84
Elizabeth & Andy Meyers `85
Bart Addis `86
Jonathan Taylor `86
Adrianne Nagy `87
Lawrence Friedl `88
Chris Round `88
Peter Bregman `89
Grace Offutt `91
Eleanor Harrison `92
Ted Polubinski `92
Gilbert Rohde `93
Wayne Collier `94
Christina Sebestyen `94
Billy Broaddus `95
Barbara Saatkamp `95
Jud Brewer `96
Mark Borsuk `95
Kristen Fountain `96
Amy Gladfelter `96
Tom Lannamann `96
Lori Pellegrino `96
Pete Schwartz *96
Sean Hartman `97
Steph Jones `97
Laura Scott `98
Katherine Byers `00
Jon Kent-Uritam `00
Ben Altz-Stamm `01
Katie Baum `01
Robin Clarke `01
Mike Errecart `01
Will Fox `01
Ryan Martin `01
Alexandra Melby `01
Jane Roberts `01
Stephen Tadlock `01
Sarah Apgar `02
Meghan Brown `02
Brian James `02
Chinook McLean `02
Meghan Mullarkey '02
Diane Nuttall `02
Nicholas Seifert `02
Darcy Williams ST

Frosh Trip '99 - 605 Strong!

It's still the largest wilderness orientation program in the United States! Once again 160 OA leaders came back to campus ten days early to provide a special wilderness experience for 605 members of the Class of '03. This year 66 different trips hiked, canoed, and climbed in seven different states. In the last twenty-five years of Frosh Trips 9,421 frosh and 2,341 leaders have participated. This year groups hiked a total 2,247 miles. If you add up the individual mileage each person hiked it comes to 25,960 miles!

Frosh Trip - What Participants Have to Say

I would have to say that this trip was a total success. From meeting 10 new, interesting people, to learning how to whitewater canoe, to becoming more at ease about starting my Princeton education. I had the best time. My leaders were amazing. We had adventures by chance and made our own. We became comfortable within ourselves and the group. I would recommend doing an OA Frosh Trip to every single incoming frosh.

I will always remember our late night discussions, our trail singing, and our group floats down the river. We really formed a great community where everyone was open and honest with everyone else. I am sure that I will remain friends with the other members of the group.

I am happy I did OA. The group experience in the woods, meeting challenges and overcoming obstacles made us a strong group. We shared plenty of laughs the whole way through and became very comfortable with each other.

I think Outdoor Action was the perfect beginning to my future at Princeton. It's nice to walk around campus and occasionally pass by and chat with some of the students that had I had such a close bond with for 6 days.

The Frosh Trip makes a huge difference in easing the transition into college. It helps to have those familiar faces and reliable friends amidst the mob of strangers. I am extremely excited about Princeton now.

I felt like I accomplished something. I made 9 awesome friends and learned a lot about Princeton from a student's perspective.

I had such a wonderful experience. The friends I made will hopefully remain with me throughout my years at Princeton. The knowledge and confidence I gained will remain with me for some time to come. Thank you!

Class of 1984 alumni create the Joe Palmer '84 Memorial Fund

We are very pleased to report that a number of members of the Class of '84 have instituted a special fund in memory of Joe Palmer '84. Joe was one of the keystones of OA's climbing program in the eighties and helped to build the first climbing wall. He died in a climbing accident in Yosemite in 1985. A number of Joe's roommates and friends have created a special memorial fund to honor Joe, his contributions to OA and his love of climbing. The Joe Palmer Fund is being spearheaded by John McNerney '84. So far the fund has raised $15,000 towards the construction of a new Climbing Wall for OA.

The Climbing Wall is a very important part of OA's programming and it has been our goal for a number of years to improve both the size and the quality of our facility to be able to handle the increasing number of climbers, both beginners and advanced. On a regular open afternoon at the Wall there will be over 25 climbers but we only have space for 8 people to be climbing at once. A wonderful community has grown up at the Wall where students from all four classes, graduate students, staff, and faculty, all come together to encourage and teach each other to be better climbers. The Climbing Wall has also become an integral part of our Community Service program where urban youth discover how to overcome challenging situations with climbing as an educational metaphor.

The timing for this challenge gift is very important because the Armory, the building where the Climbing Wall is housed, will be torn down in a few years to make way for a new Chemistry building. That means our current wall will be destroyed when the building comes down. In order to maintain a strong climbing program at Princeton we need to raise the funds to build a new wall. Our goal is to build a new state-of-the-art wall, which will cost approximately $150,000. The $15,000 gift from members of the Class of 1984 is a challenge gift to encourage other OA Alumni to contribute towards the new wall.

I can't think of a more fitting way to remember Joe than to create a new climbing wall that continues this wonderful tradition. I want to encourage all of those who knew Joe and those who want to see the OA Climbing Program continue to grow to contribute to the Joe Palmer '84 Memorial Fund. For information on how to give, please see the OA Gifts page.

OA Office moves to Alexander Road

For those who have visited campus over the last few years, you know that the OA Office has been moving around pretty often. The office was in West College until 1995 when West College was closed for renovations. OA was housed on the 6th Floor of New South for the 1995 - 1996 academic year. In the fall of 1996 OA merged with Blairstown and the OA office was relocated to the second floor of Clio Hall since there was no room at the Blairstown office. Then in November of 1998 OA moved to the Armory to join up with the rest of the Princeton-Blairstown Center staff. OA and Blairstown are now moving a our new home on 330 Alexander Road, the Helm Building, where the University Development Office is located. Our new quarters will be far from students so Darcy and I will need to travel to campus regularly for meetings. The new office does offer twice as much space as our current setting and allows for future expansion. Please come visit us after the first of the year when we will (hopefully) be all unpacked.

OA Develops Strategic Plan for 2000 and beyond

In the warm glow of looking back at the last 25 years, the Friends of OA Board has been looking ahead to where OA is going in the next five to ten years. We have drafted a Strategic Plan for OA, which will serve as the guide for program direction for the next 3-5 years. If you would like to review the OA Strategic Plan, please check it out on the Web. Anyone interested in helping to chart OA's course for the future, should join the Friends of OA board. Details for becoming a board member are available on the OA Web site or contact Rick Curtis at the OA office (rcurtis@princeton.edu).

OA Climbing to New Heights 2000 Campaign

1999 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Outdoor Action Program. Since its inception in 1974 over 40,000 Princeton students have participated in OA activities. You know how valuable this program is to students and alumni. The majority of OA funding comes from participant fees. Part of our mission has always been to make sure that OA is accessible to all students, regardless of their financial situation. We have kept trip prices artificially low, for example a 5-day leader training trip still costs students only $85. This doesn't begin to cover the true costs of operating the program. In order to continue to provide the highest quality program for students, OA needs to build a significant endowment. Our goal is to raise $2 Million dollars in endowment to provide OA with a secure financial future. This fund will come from individual contributions, solicited gifts, and corporate and foundation support. All contributions to Outdoor Action are considered tax deductible contributions to Princeton University and are counted towards the final goal for The Anniversary Campaign for Princeton. For more information on the Climbing to New Heights Campaign and how you can help check out the campaign information on the OA Web Site.

OA Expands Community Service Initiatives

As part of the Princeton-Blairstown Center, OA is continuing to expand its outreach to urban youth in the Princeton and Trenton area. Outdoor and experiential education approaches such as the OA Climbing Wall and the Team Building Course are powerful ways of teaching kids self-esteem, self-confidence, and how to work together as a group. OA is expanding its Community Service Program through a joint effort with Community House called "Freshmen-2-Freshmen & Beyond," a  mentoring program that pairs entering Princeton Freshmen with entering freshmen at Princeton High School. Outdoor Action will be providing these mentor pairs with a range of experiential and outdoor activities to help build trust between the pair and to challenge them to succeed. This fall the students will be learning to climb and belay each other at the Climbing Wall where the "belaying metaphor" will be used for the relationship that will develop between mentor and mentee. OA is also continuing to work with the Leadership Among Multicultural People (LAMP) program at the high school. OA has also partnered with Community House and the Student Volunteers Council to create a training program for Princeton students on how to effectively volunteer with urban youth. As part of Hunger Awareness Week, OA sponsored a 5.1 mile hike/run on the D&R Canal towpath. Eighty-five students participated and raised over $1,200 for Oxfam America, an international hunger relief organization.

Donate your old Cell Phone to OA

OA is moving into the communication age. One thing we need is cell phones to provide to trips, especially during the Frosh Trip (70+ trips). If you have an old Motorola Cell phone that you are no longer using, you can donate it to OA. We can activate the phone using a Bell Mobile Calling card. We prefer the standard Motorola flip-phone since it is easy to buy battery packs that use standard AA alkaline batteries, essential for field use where there is no recharging capability. Your donation is considered a tax-deductible contribution to Princeton and we will send you a letter confirming your donation for your tax records. So far we have received 15 phones, a wonderful start.

OA Web-Hot News

The OA Web site is the way to keep in touch with the latest that is happening with Outdoor Action and OA alumni around the world. This summer the big Web project was to move all OA Trip sign-ups into our own on-line TripStore complete with trip catalog and shopping cart. Students, faculty and staff are able to search through the latest OA activities and register on-line. Our system allows us to bill directly to the person's University account. In the future we will add credit card purchases as well. This was a major programming effort this summer, but has paid off in the 24/7 accessibility (no more paper trip sign-up forms that are only available during office hours). Leaders are able to call up the latest participant lists from their rooms with phone number, voice mail number and email address.

Keep your eyes peeled for more exciting additions to the OA Web soon!

OA Logo

Twenty-five Years of Outdoor Action! 
OA Program Participation Growth

The records from the early years of OA are a little foggy (are some of us who were there at the time). We have kept really good records over the last eighteen years. During that period the participation in Outdoor Action Programs has increased dramatically. As you can see in the Table 1 below since 1981 the number of programs has increased by 500%, the number of participants has increased by 790%, and the number of student leaders on trips has increased by 565%. During that period 28,963 students have participated (some repeatedly) and 5,202 student leaders. To date Outdoor Action has logged over 2,000,000 hours of participation. Clearly Outdoor Action is playing a significant role in the lives of undergraduates at Princeton University. What is also important to note is that the breadth of Outdoor Action activities is increasing as well as the diversity of participants to include more students of color, graduate students, and faculty and staff.

Outdoor Action Activities 1981 - 1999

Academic Year

# of Events

Part. #

Ldr #

Total #

Part Days

Ldr Days

Total Days

Part Hrs

Ldr Hrs

Total Hrs

1981 - 1982











1982 - 1983











1983 - 1984











1984 - 1985











1985 - 1986











1986 - 1987











1987 - 1988











1988 - 1989











1989 - 1990











1990 - 1991











1991 - 1992











1992 - 1993











1993 - 1994











1994 - 1995











1995 - 1996











1996 - 1997











1997 - 1998











1998 - 1999












# of Events

Part. #

Ldr #

Total #

Part Days

Ldr Days

Total Days

Part Hrs

Ldr Hrs

Total Hrs

Totals =











News from the Trailhead

Here's the latest on what's happening to OA Alums out there in the hinterlands. Send us your latest news for the spring edition of Tiger Trails.

Check out the December '99 issue of Backpacker Magazine. OA and The Backpacker's Field Manual are featured on page 27.

Chris Van Buren '84 sent in his latest news, "I'd like to announce the birth of Adam Christopher Van Buren, born Sept. 21 at 4:30 a.m. He is 8 lbs., 13.5 oz., and 22 in. long. Everyone is doing fine, including his big brother Jacob, who really seems to like having Adam around (for now, anyway)."

Janine Pisani McGuire '92 and Kevin McGuire '93 were married on September 25 (another OA Leader wedding!) Janine and Kevin are heading down to South America as Janine competes as part of the Tiger Racing Team in the Discovery Channel Eco-Challenge December 1-12. You can read the dispatches about the event at www.ecochallenge.com and www.tigeradventure.com

Billy Broaddus '95 reports that he has been leading canoeing, backpacking, and bike touring trips for teens at Camp Merrowvista in eastern New Hampshire. Billy is also active with the Association for Experiential Education and served on the conference committee for the 27th International Conference held in Rochester, NY in November.

Naomi Darling '96 writes," I'm down under working on a Master in Fine Arts in sculpture - Artist as Explorer of the Australian Landscape. I just got back from a great trip up to the Red Center. The sand there is a deep, rich red and wow, the stars are bright."

Marlene Haas '97 writes, "I spent two months hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail in California this past summer with my friend Jenny Biedler. I am now a beginning graduate student at the University of Minnesota where I'll be studying the territoriality and resource use of lions in the Serengeti."

All online information at the Outdoor Action Web Site is protected by copyright laws. You may set up links to material found at the Outdoor Action Web Site. Printed versions of the material may be distributed for nonprofit educational use as long as no fees are charged for the material, attributions are made to the author, and no content changes are made. Commercial use of this material either in electronic or printed form is prohibited without express written permission from the author. Copyright © 1995 - 2004, all rights reserved, Rick Curtis, Outdoor Action Program, Princeton University. Send your comments and suggestions on the OA Web Site to Outdoor Action