Tiger Trails Masthead


Winter, 2000
Friends of OA Newsletter

Message from Rick Curtis

Each summer as Labor Day approaches most people were getting ready for the last long weekend of summer. My thoughts, however, were focused on the Frosh Trip. A whole year had gone by and it was time to launch another one. It started with the arrival of more than 190 OA student leaders and support staff. Friends excitedly talking about their summers as they go through refresher training in first aid and camping skills, meetings with co-leaders, route briefings on trip areas, and equipment and food distribution. The anticipation grew each day awaiting the arrival of the Class of 2004. It all peaked on Saturday afternoon with all of the leaders sitting on the floor at Dillon Gym and cheering as the new students streamed into the gym. Another Frosh Trip launched.

If you think back, you may remember your freshmen year and walking in to a gym full of people you didn't know thinking, "what am I doing here?" At the end of that week you may not have been able to answer that question, but you felt like you weren't the only one and you had a group of good friends and fond memories to help you get through those first few weeks or months of school. You may also remember the other side, sitting on the floor in Dillon next to a sign that read BF26 or some other trip number, anxiously awaiting the arrival of ten frosh and thinking about what you were going to do to give them a tremendous week in the wilderness.

Each year my strongest memory is when the buses roll back in and hordes of dirty students pile out, some with warpaint on their faces, cheering about how great a trip they had. When the last bus pulls in and the very last group hikes back to their rooms and a shower I head home and get a good nights sleep. Until next year.

Rick Curtis '79 - Director, Outdoor Action

OA Receives Endowment Gift for Frosh Trip Grants

Kevin Callaghan '83 (right) and Page Thompson '83 on the summit in the southern alps in New Zealand.

We are excited to announce a very special gift to Outdoor Action from Kevin Callaghan '83. This generous gift establishes the Kevin Callaghan '83 Fund an endowed fund to provide financial support each year to allow needy students to participate in the Frosh Trip Program.

Kevin did not begin his involvement with the outdoors until after Princeton. The summer after graduation was his first hiking trip with two Class of '83 friends to the Swiss Alps. The physical aspect of hiking, the camaraderie, and the beauty of the mountains was a totally new experience for Kevin and he "got the bug" as so many of us have. Two years later an Outward Bound course in North Carolina cemented his commitment to the outdoors and outdoor education. As soon as he returned from Outward Bound he "stopped at EMS and bought everything under the sun—pack, tent, sleeping bag, stove, Thermarest" on his way out of town to start graduate school at Stanford. While at Stanford Kevin backpacked and hiked extensively in the Sierras, Yosemite, and Sequoia National Parks. He has hiked or climbed with many '83'ers: Brian McDonald, Page Thompson, Jeff and Cynthia Penney, Bill Hallett, Kris Bower Schulte, and Nan Gillespie O'Connell, all "providing some of my fondest memories."

On talking about his gift he said, "I wish I had been able to take advantage of all that OA has to offer while I was a student. Getting introduced to the outdoors while I was in college would have been wonderful. In particular, I wish I had gone on the Frosh Trip--on the margin, it wasn't readily affordable and I didn't feel I had the right level of experience." Many students on financial aid find it hard to participate in the Frosh Trip because of the cost of the program and the need to purchase equipment combined with the loss of a week of summer job earnings. Kevin's gift will help make this wonderful opportunity available for many students who otherwise would not be able to afford to participate. Here is what one participant had to say about this year's Frosh Trip.

I want to thank you and the Scott Scholarship for making it possible for me to attend the Outdoor Action Program. As a first time camper/backpacker, my outdoor experience was a fantastic introduction to the joys of nature. The memories of the trip will stay with me for years to come. The trip has also inspired me to create more memories by traveling on future excursions.

In addition to the gorgeous scenery I witnessed, I have come away with a group of close friends that carry me through a sea of unfamiliar faces. My leaders and group members are all exciting individuals that came together to create an extended family. Without OA, these friendships would not be enriching my Princeton experience.

The Kevin Callaghan '83 Fund will complement the Zander Scott '92 Fund and significantly expand our ability to aid incoming students. Each year the interest from the Callaghan endowment fund will support more than twenty-five incoming frosh. Kevin's gift is the largest individual gift Outdoor Action has received. We all extend our appreciation to Kevin for his generous gift to future generations of Frosh Trip participants.

Mt. Princeton Climb 2001 - July 10-15/2001

Jump here for the latest info and how to register.

OA in the News

You may have seen the wonderful "On the Campus" piece by Emily Johnson '01 in the October 18 issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly. There was also an article about Wilderness Orientation Trips that appeared in the Christian Science Monitor which is available at (www.csmonitor.com/durable/2000/09/19/fp16s1-csm.shtml). Alex Rawson '01, another OA Frosh Trip Leader and leader trainer, wrote the following piece for PAW Online.

How Outdoor Action sets the tone for the Princeton experience
by Alex Rawson '01, From PAW Online Oct. 11, 2000



Frosh Trip 2000 - sunshine and smiles

One hundred, forty-eight upperclassmen sit in groups of twos and threes, pounding the floor in Dillon Gym and chanting "Freshmen! Freshmen!" while 583 members of the Class of 2004 stand huddled nervously outside the entrance.

Then suddenly, without warning, the freshmen are ushered into the gym to meet their leaders for the Outdoor Action trip upon which they are about to embark. I remember the feeling when I was a freshman, and now I can see the same fear, bewilderment, and uncertainty stamped openly upon the face of quite nearly every person entering the gym.

It is a fear of newness, it is a fear of the stereotypes that each of them holds about Princeton, and most of all it is a fear of not fitting in at a place they can not yet call home. While these fears and uncertainties are quite natural and are in most cases probably even productive, in too many cases they are manifested in character changes on campus. Over the past four years I have watched far too many freshmen change, or worse, ignore, their fundamental values in the belief that they have to behave a certain way in order to fit in at Princeton.

Some people simply drink more, others see study habits suffer, and priorities shift altogether too fast. And I'm sure this has been true of freshmen for decades. But it is nevertheless a scary and undesirable transformation—especially if students change their identity only because they believe they have to.

Outdoor Action, begun in 1974, works to preempt that change by easing freshmen into the transition to college. While OA runs a variety of outdoor trips year round under the guidance of program director Rick Curtis '79, by far its largest and farthest reaching is the annual frosh trip. The frosh trip sends groups of eight to 10 freshmen into the wilderness with two or three upperclass leaders, where in the often uncomfortable crucible of the outdoors, trip participants drop their guards and their artifices and openly face their concerns about Princeton.

OA, which since its inception has grown to nearly 600 participants (more than half the freshmen class) and more than 140 leaders annually, is the very first contact that freshmen have with Princeton, and ultimately serves as the first real step in the orientation process. As a consequence, OA plays two complementary roles for its frosh.

First, each freshman develops seven or eight new friendships that make campus a much more comfortable place to be once school officially begins. One recent participant explains, "The [trip] was helpful to me in that it lessened my fears about the social scene at Princeton - getting to know nine wonderfully interesting and caring people."

Second, freshmen on Outdoor Action trips have the opportunity to hear upperclassmen respond to their fears about college, in most cases alleviating them. "I had already in a sense oriented myself to Princeton life through my leaders' guidance," writes another recent participant, "and I felt that my adjustment to campus life was that much smoother."

Spending close to six days in the woods, facing challenges together, and forming bonds through mutual hardship, freshmen return to campus feeling more confident about Princeton and more comfortable with the way they fit in.

In many cases freshmen return bolstered by the knowledge that they can continue to be the same person they have always been and still find a niche on campus. And that knowledge, which prevents the kind of radical personality changes described above, is invaluable.

The university administration spends considerable time and money focusing on ways to curb alcohol abuse and to improve student life, but administrative edicts and even programs that are merely viewed as administrative pet projects are often unwelcome and rarely achieve results.

The frosh trip, on the other hand, simply by promoting self-awareness and self-confidence, already does on many levels what the administration is trying to accomplish both in terms of alcohol and in terms of basic freshman orientation, and it does so without ever being didactic or condescending. As a result, the university would do well to invest in expanding the Outdoor Action program.

Alex Rawson, a history major, is from Shaker Heights, Ohio. (Reprinted with permission, Princeton Alumni Weekly publications).

Each year OA impacts hundreds of students in profound ways that effect the rest of their college experience and beyond. You can read more of the comments from leaders and participants at (www.princeton.edu/~oa/reports/quotes.shtml)

New Vice President of Campus Life Welcomes the Class of 2004

We were very pleased to have Janet Dickerson, the new Vice President of Campus Life join us on Saturday September 2 to welcome 583 incoming Frosh as they paraded into Dillon Gym to cheers and applause from OA leaders inside. Janet was impressed with the shear size of the program and its positive impact both on incoming students and on OA Leaders.

Janet comes to Princeton from Duke University and is a strong proponent of outdoor and experiential education. In July, Friends of OA Board members, current students and OA Director Rick Curtis met with Janet to talk with her about OA and the positive role it plays on campus. Janet was very quick to grasp the impact that the Leader Training Program has on students both while at Princeton and afterwards. We are all extremely excited to have Janet at Princeton as a strong ally for Outdoor Action.

Joe Palmer '84 Memorial Fund Grows to $28,000

We are climbing upward in our goal to build a new Climbing Wall for OA. Thanks to a generous gift from the Tom Kissinger '84 and the Kissinger Family Foundation along with our earlier gifts from John McNerney '84 and other members of Joe's class we now have $28,000 towards a new wall. The technology for building climbing walls has changed dramatically from when OA built one of the first University Climbing Walls back in 1983 and we have begun contacting different companies for information and pricing on construction.

We expect the project to go in stages. Stage 1 will be to replace the existing Wall in the Armory with a state-of-the-art wall of the same square footage. The building technology we use will be modular and allow us to move the Wall to a new home when the Armory is eventually torn down. Cost per square foot ranges from $25 - $70 depending on the type of construction. Our current Wall is 1,000 square feet so our fund raising goal for Stage 1 is roughly $40,000. Thanks to the generous donations from the Class of '84 we are well on our way towards raising the funds for Stage 1.

Stage 2 will take place once we move to a new location where our goal is to double the amount of climbing space by incorporating the modular wall as part of a new larger climbing structure. The plan is to expand the current number of climbing lanes from 8 to 16 which means 32 people (with belayers) can use the Wall at one time. We have begun the long conversation with the University about the need for a permanent home for the Wall after the Armory is torn down. For more information on how to contribute to the Joe Palmer '84 Fund jump to (www.princeton.edu/~oa/alumni/campaign/funds.shtml)

Frosh Trip 2000 - Pushing the Envelope & Building Community

Outdoor Action has always been about searching for new ways to help people learn in the outdoor setting. This year, continuing the efforts begun on Frosh Trip '99 we added a day of pre-Frosh Trip training for OA Leaders entitled "Building Community." The training, designed by OA Board member Philo (Warren) Elmer '69 and others focused on the role that leaders play in helping to shape frosh's first experience of Princeton. Through a day of experiential activities, group games, role plays and discussions, leaders examined carefully the impact they have as role models for their frosh. A group of dedicated Princetonians and OA alumni came back to facilitate small groups of leaders including: Chris Beeson '99, Andy Brown '69, Philo Elmer '69, John Gager Faculty, Jim Garrett '65, Laura Hardiman '99, Melissa Lockman '98, Spencer Reynolds '92, Ed Seliga '75, Chris Shephard '98, and Mark Wiranowski '95 .

One of the things that made this training day so special was the alumni facilitators who knew about Princeton and OA and were able to guide leaders through some important discussions. We want to make this an annual part of Frosh Trip Training and are looking for alumni leaders who would be willing to come back next year and help just prior to the Frosh Trip ( August 29-30, 2001). If you would be interested, please email Rick at email Outdoor Action or indicate this on your Friends of OA membership form.



Janet Dickerson, John Danielson '58, Philo Elmer '69 watching the Class of 2004 arrive in Dillon Gym.

John Danielson '58 retires from Blairstown

Those of us who were involved in the early days of Outdoor Action and Blairstown in the 70's remember a tall, lanky figure whose passion and optimistic enthusiasm for experiential education and building community has been transforming the lives of people for forty years. John Danielson began in the Financial Aid Office at Princeton University in 1960. He joined the Dean of Students Office in 1968 working primarily with student groups. In 1971 John shifted his job responsibilities to work half-time in the Dean's Office and half-time for Blairstown as the program continued to expand. In 1972 John became the first full-time Executive Director of Blairstown and held that position through 1979. During that time he facilitated Blairstown's transition from a summer camp to a year-round outdoor education center and was instrumental in the early formation of Outdoor Action. John returned to Princeton in 1989 to work for the University Development Office. He became the Director of Development for Blairstown in 1992. John has been a mentor and role model for many of us through the years. Outdoor Action, Princeton-Blairstown Center, and Princeton University are hosting a retirement celebration for John in December. We have put up a special Web page where you can send in your best wishes, comments, memories and stories about John for inclusion in a memory book that we will give him at the celebration. You can access it on the Web and read other people's comments at our new Alumni Interaction Site (www.oa.princeton.edu/alumni/comments/)

OA Frosh Trip Video

Throughout this fall's Frosh Trip an ever-present person was Martha Otis with her digital video camera. Martha is the videographer for the Program in Theater and Dance at Princeton. She generously volunteered her time to film a video of the Frosh Trip. Martha's footage includes leader training before the Frosh Trip, the arrival of the Frosh at Dillon Gym, departure on Sunday, the Outdoor Adventure trips at Blairstown, and groups hiking and rock climbing in the Water Gap. The video will also contain interviews of students and OA Leaders as well as Friends of OA board members. The goal is to edit all six hours of footage down to a 10-15 minute video. The video will be used as a recruitment piece for incoming students as well as an educational piece for University administrators and potential donors. We look forward to being able to show the video at Reunions next spring.

Friends of OA Membership & Gifts

We want to thank all of you who have generously donated to Outdoor Action over the past year. Our goal is to become the best University outdoor program in the country. To do so means providing leaders with the very best training, participants with the best equipment and having excellent facilities. Your annual dues go to support the day to day operation of the OA program. Endowment gifts are part of a special account for Outdoor Action that exists within the University's investment portfolio. Each year we receive about 4% interest from the endowment while the remaining interest is reinvested in the principal. Endowment gifts provide us with the security of a long-term funding source. Gifts can be used for specific purposes like the Joe Palmer '84 Fund for the Climbing Wall or the Zander Scott '92 Fund for Frosh Trip Scholarships or as general endowment funding for the program. All gifts to OA are considered fully tax-deductible gifts to Princeton University.

OA 25th Anniversary Report on the Web - Add your comments & stories

Last year's celebration of OA's 25th Anniversary was both a time to look back at our accomplishments and look ahead to our future. Our rich history has been summarized in the OA 25th Anniversary Report which is available on the Web (www.princeton.edu/~oa/alumni/25report.shtml). You can add your thoughts about why OA is an important part of Princeton and read what others have to say at our Alumni Comments Web Page (oa.princeton.edu/alumni/comments/).

Notes from the Trailhead

Here is the latest news from OA friends across the country. Send us your stories on your Friends of OA membership form or on the Web (oa.princeton.edu/alumni/comments/).

Katie Weber '89 married Doug Pflugh in September outside of Leavenworth, Washington. Katie is a physician and will spend the next year on a fellowship in Boisie, Idaho. In attendance at the wedding were Katie's brother Jeff Weber '90, John Leslie '90, Ted Polubinski '92 and Grace Offut '91, Torrey McMillan '96, Liz White '91, and Marcia Witte '90.

Eric Tilenius '90 writes that he is trying to recover from "Internet start-up workaholism" (ISW) and welcomes other ISW's in the San Francisco area to join him in taking a day off now and then to hike in the beautiful bay area (eric@tilenius.com).

Anne Sherwood '92 writes that she is still living in Bozeman, Montana where she works as a photojournalist. She recently returned from a climbing and skiing expedition in the Fairweather Range in Alaska where she accomplished many first ascents and descents. Any alumni passing through Bozeman should look Ann up.

Barbara Merz '96 spent the summer volunteering as a backcountry patrol ranger in Denali National Park in Alaska. She wrote that the wildflowers were all in bloom and the park was gorgeous.



Friends of Outdoor Action

330 Alexander Road, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, www.princeton.edu/~oa/

Name ______________________________________________________ Class __________

Address_________________________________________________________________________________

City ________________________________________ State _________ Zip ____________

__ Please check if this is a new address.

Email Address________________________________________________________________

If you want to be contacted by email about upcoming OA activities.

Friends of Outdoor Action Membership Dues for 2001

_____ $5.00 Student dues _____ $60.00 Trail Breaker dues

_____ $20.00 Friend/Parent dues _____ $100.00 Wilderness Steward dues

_____ $40.00 Pathfinder dues _____ $250.00 Mountain Guide dues

_____ Other Contribution $___________ _____ $500.00 Expedition Leader dues

Please make checks payable to Princeton University. All contributions are tax deductible and eligible for matching gift programs.

OA Climbing to New Heights Campaign Donations

_____ Please send me more information on the OA Climbing to New Heights Campaign and how I can support Outdoor Action through charitable contributions.

Climbing to New Heights Fund $_______________ Building long-term endowment for Outdoor Action.

Joe Palmer '84 Memorial Fund $_______________ Building a new Climbing Wall for Outdoor Action

Zander Scott '92 Scholarship Fund $_______________ Building endowment for Frosh Trip scholarships.

Leadership Development Fund $_______________ Supporting the new OA Program Coordinator position.

Please make checks payable to Princeton University. If you send one check, please specify what amount is for membership and what amount is for the Climbing to New Heights Campaign.

Outdoor Action Items

_____ $15.00 - OA T-shirt, ash gray with orange & back OA logo (100% cotton). Size: __________
($5 of your gift is a tax deductible contribution to OA)

_____ $15.00 - OA Leader T-shirt, stone blue with cream OA logo (100% cotton). Size: __________
($5 of your gift is a tax deductible contribution to OA)

_____ $15.00 - OA Mt. Princeton T-shirt, white with OA Logo on front, Mt. Princeton quad on the back Size: __________
($5 of your gift is a tax deductible contribution to OA)

_____ $25.00 - autographed copy of The Backpacker's Field Manual
($10 of your gift is a tax deductible contribution to OA)

_____ $40.00 - OA Crazy Creek Chair - the perfect portable chair for camp use with the OA logo.

Current tax laws require that the fair market value of an item received as part of a gift be subtracted from the amount that is considered tax deductible.

News from the Trailhead

Send us news about what you are doing or your latest outdoor adventures for the next issue of Tiger Trails.

Help Outdoor Action

___ I am interested in being a Frosh Trip Leader Faciliator - August 29 - 30, 2001.
___ I am interested in being an Alumni(ae) participant in this fall's Frosh Trip - September 2 - 8, 2001.
___ I am interested serving on the Friends of OA Board (meets three times/year - September, February, May/June)
___ I am interested in helping coordinate regional OA Alumni activities in my area __________________________________.


Mt. Princeton Climb - July 10-15, 2001

330 Alexander Road, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, www.princeton.edu/~oa/

Name ______________________________________________________ Class/Affiliation _________________

Address_________________________________________________________________________________

City ________________________________________ State _________ Zip ____________ Phone ______________________

Email Address________________________________________________________________

Ponderosa Lodging

Lodging is rooms with 4-8 single person bunks with bath or 4-6 person cabins (twin beds) with bath. We will assign families to rooms based on size, couples based on class year, and singles based on gender and class year. Please let us know your lodging preference and anyone to house you with: ____________________________________________________________________________________

Meals - Ponderosa & Climb/Barbecue

Please tell us your food needs/preferences and for how many people in your party:

Red Meat _____    Chicken/Fish _____     Vegetarian _____      Vegan _____

Transportation to/from the Ponderosa Lodge

We are providing shuttle service from the Denver airport to the Ponderosa Lodge on Tuesday, 7/10 at 3:00 PM, you will need to be at the airport by 2:30 PM. The shuttle takes about 3½ hours and will arrive at the Ponderosa in time for dinner on Tuesday evening. The shuttle will leave for the airport on Sunday, July 15 at 8:30 AM. Do not book departing flights until 1:30 PM or later.




Thanks for your support for Outdoor Action


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