Thursday September 03, 2015
Friends of OA Newsletter
2007 - An Incredible Year for OA
Leadership: How OA Transforms Students
An Outdoor Action Experience
by Carl Boettiger ’07
I began my Princeton experience, along with 598 other members of the class of 2007, with a week in the rain among the woods of the Northeast. I was lukewarm about Princeton, nervous to leave the group of high-school friends I had taken so long to make, and feeling all that I had heard of the social scene at Princeton dubious at best. I returned to campus with confidence, friendships, and a desire to figure out just how those student leaders little older then we had worked such magic. Could I learn to do that?
Itβs now four years later, and as I leave the gates of Princeton I look forward to my next transition with none of the same trepidation I held then. In preparing to become an OA leader I learned first aid skills from student-led courses that forced me to go beyond book-knowledge to provide competent and confident hands-on treatment. Inspired, I took a Wilderness First Responder course with the help of OA and returned to teach these courses. With a friend and experienced rock climber Iβd met on my Frosh Trip, I explored OAβs climbing program, improving my skills with the encouragement of others and becoming a staff-member of OAβs Climbing Wall. I led my first Frosh Trip the following year and felt the pride in my school and the chance to offer that experience to new students. I had found mentors, friends, activities, and skills I had never anticipated. Yet it was not until becoming a Leader Trainer in my junior year that I really began to understand the magic.
As a Leader Trainer, Iβve done a lot of teaching and evaluating, and of none moreso than myself. Somehow OA was no longer a hat I put on from time to timeβit was part of me, how I interacted with others, how I approached novel activities, how I interpreted the world around me. Living in a quad with other OA leaders and leader trainers, we would often debrief our disagreements. I couldnβt observe the interactions of any new groupβa precept, a study break, a spontaneous discussion in the hallwaysβwithout my mind running over the Tuckman model (forming-storming-norming-performing) or feeling more attuned to who is enjoying the conversation and who is uncomfortably withdrawing from a topic they find uncomfortable. Working at the Climbing Wall I no longer see only the physical and mental challenges of scaling a wall, but the development of trust in a partnerβs rope-handling and self-confidence in a climberβs motion.
Before, leadership seemed simple, intuitive, and inborn. Some people just had that magic touch. With these OA-lenses permanently fixed to my face, the world looks different: leadership, essentially group facilitation, is something that can be taught and learned. Itβs more like conducting an orchestra than working magic spells. Not some effortless natural giftβitβs a lot of work, but itβs also something in which one can always improve. In this way, Iβll carry OA with me wherever I go.
How can I capture my OA experience in a few written paragraphs? I want to describe how it has transformed me, how it has taught me more than any other part of my Princeton education, skills more valuable for life than any academic knowledge could be. How it has shaped my view of the world and my sense of responsibility to it and to each other. I would want to convey my conviction that the amazing and essential role that it played in my Princeton experience should also be accessible and shared by all Princeton students involved in the program. Would this not all be dismissed as mere enthusiasm? Some things you just have to experience to believe.
- Carl has started graduate school in Physics at the University of California at Davis.
Quotes from FT 2007 Participants
One of the most valuable lessons I learned on OA was to keep an open mind and not to judge people. There were a wide range of personalities on my trip, from hard-core partiers to quiet geniuses to varsity athletes to talented musicians. Had I not been on the trip, I might have been tempted to judge the various people in my group at first glance. After spending a week in the wilderness with them, however, I learned that everyone made unique contributions to the group and that I had traits in common with everyone. The trip also helped to ease the fears I had about adjusting to college life, meeting new people, etc. It was a great experience!
OA, without a doubt, will be one of my best memories here at Princeton. The friends I made in OA, without hesitation, will be some of my best friends during college and even after. I had such a mind-blowing good time! My OA trip was exceptionally memorable mostly in part because I had outstanding OA Leaders!
Every time I walk through Blair Arch I think back to my first night at Princeton, camping out in the grass before OA, and smile. Looking up at the beautiful gothic buildings I felt overwhelmingly excited for the adventures in store over the next week, and four years. Butterflies ran amuck in my stomach though, because even though my group seemed cool, I couldnβt yet tell how much weβd click, and Princeton in general still seemed a big mystery. Fast forward to our last night of OA in the Delaware Water Gapβ¦ I slept like a baby because over the course of OA I became completely comfortable. Physically, I grew to love living outdoors, actually enjoying my βmattressβ of rocks. Emotionally, I felt like an integral part of my group, as if I had a place in the Princeton community before even getting there, and had learned so much about other ways I wanted to get involved in other communities once I got to campus. I can think of no better way of starting my Princeton career than OA.
OA Leadership - International in Scope
by Andrew Turco ’07
For me, just like for most other Outdoor Action leaders, OA was one of the first things that I experienced at Princeton, and by senior year, as a leader and as a leader trainer, it was one of the few organizations that I was still strongly involved with from freshman year right up through graduation. Outdoor Action had such an impact for me because it paralleled my own development as a Princeton student, from clueless frosh to upperclassman, and from Frosh Trip participant to leader who taught and trained other leaders. The program provided consistency throughout my time at Princeton but also allowed me to take on bigger challenges and more roles within the organization, just as I was maturing and ready to grow in other areas of my Princeton life.
In addition to the sense of community that OA provided throughout all four years, the program was key in teaching me leadership skills and ideas about goal setting, debriefing, and working within a group, all skills which guided me in my involvement with various international service projects that I participated in outside of OA including trips to Mexico and China. In serving as a leader of the Cruz Blanca Initiative, a service trip to Mexico, I realized that many of the group and wilderness-oriented skills that I practiced on OA were useful strategies for working with any group and for working in a foreign country, which has both different and unexpected environments from those on the Princeton campus, just as leading a group on the Appalachian Trail does.
As part of the International Service Initiative working to promote an increased level of international service trips for Princeton students, I again took advantage of some of the goal-setting and mediating skills that I had put to use through my involvement in OA. Interestingly, four of the other six students in that group were also OA leaders. Although we were certainly not in a wilderness context inside the gothic buildings of campus, being able to listen closely to what each other were really saying, being able to work with different groups, and trying to mediate differing opinions were essential for us to succeed. I actually wasn't aware that I had been using lessons from OA until someone else pointed it out to me, making me realize that OA had so successfully instilled these leadership skills that I no longer realized when I am using them. Essentially, OA provided me the context to become fluent with leadership skills that have proved invaluable. And, of course, OA taught me how to make the best tuna, cheese, salsa, peanut butter, and GORP wrap, which is something that no other program at Princeton was as successful at doing.
- Andrew is spending this year teaching English in China with Princeton in Asia.
OA's New Climbing Wall - Goals for the Future
The new OA Climbing Wall opened in October. This is something that's been in the βdream stageβ for many, many years. The construction work by Entre Prises of Bend, Oregon, the largest manufacturer of climbing walls in the world, was completed on September 19 and the Wall opened on October 11.
It is a spectacular facilityβthirty-two feet high and seventy-five feet wide with overhangs, three vertical crack sytems, and a roof. The design was done with specific input of the last yearβs student wall staff, and we owe a special thanks to Carl Boettiger β07 for all his dedication to building the climbing wall program over the last two years.
This new dedicated facility allows us to be open more hours each week and have hours for groups to schedule at the Wall. We have already had various Residential College groups, and student clubs and organizations use the facility. Our goal, under the guidance of Program Coordinator Eric Cielinski, is to make the wall both a training and teaching facility, as well as a team building opportunity for sports teams, academic departments and others.
We could not have opened the new Wall without the special support of the Joe Palmer β84 Fund. These donations, made in the memory of Joe Palmer who helped build the very first OA Climbing Wall in 1983, provided the resources for us to purchase all new climbing equipment (shoes, ropes, helmets, hardware, and climbing holds) for the new Wall. I want to thank the Palmer Family and all of those who have contributed to the fund for their gracious support.
Our long term goal is to build an endowed fund in Joeβs name that can be used for the annual operations of the Wall to ensure that this wonderful resource is accessible and affordable to all students. Please visit the new Wall on your next visit to campus and watch for our special Wall events at Alumni Day and Reunions. For more information and photos of the new Wall and information on how to make a donation to the Joe Palmer β84 Fund go to www.princeton.edu/~oa/climbing
Alumni News & Notes
OA Welcomes Eric Cielinksi as the new Program Coordinator
We are really excited to welcome Eric Cielinski as the new OA Program Coordinator. Eric joins us from upstate New York where he was instructing Outdoor Education classes at SUNY Cortland in their Recreation and Physical Education Departments. He attained an M.S. from SUNY Cortland in Outdoor and Environmental Education after spending a number of years working in the field. Previously, Eric has been an instructor at the Colorado Mountain College Timberline Campus, where he led students on various outdoor pursuits including rock and ice climbing, mountaineering, sea kayaking, and canyoneering throughout the country. Ericβs academic interests have focused on leadership development and environmental ethics, two areas where Outdoor Action excels. Ericβs background also includes time spent working in Mountain Rescue and Emergency Medicine which compliment his medical training and outdoor expertise.
Debbie Clarke Moderow β77 shares stories of her adventures in the Iditarod Race
People who were on campus for Reunions had the unique opportunity to spend a morning with Debbie Clarke Moderow β77. Debbie lives in Denali Park, Alaska and together with her family, has developed the Salty Dog Kennel, home to 38 sled dogs. Her love of the dogs led her to the sport of mushing, and she has raced in the Iditarod sled dog Race in 2003 and 2005 as well as in numerous other mushing races. Debbie provided the audience with a unique look at the sport including the joys of working with the dog team and some of the incredible challenges she faced on races through the Alaskan wilderness. You can read more about Debbie in the article that appeared about her in PAW in 2005 www.princeton.edu/~paw/archive_new/PAW05-06/01-0914/features1iditarod.html) and at www.saltydogkennel.com.
Josh Miner β43 Award Winner - Brian Rosborough '62
This yearsβ Josh Miner β43 Experiential Education award was presented at Reunions to Brian Rosborough β62. The award is given annually to βa graduate of Princeton University who has provided outstanding leadership in the fields of experiential or outdoor education.β Founding Chairman of Earthwatch Institute, Brian has been a pioneer in the environmental field. During his 25-year tenure as CEO, Rosborough supported innovative research in the rainforest canopy. Since its founding in 1971, Earthwatch has supported over 3,000 scientific expeditions in 120 countries to investigate and monitor environmental change. More than 80,000 volunteers have contributed about $60 million and over 10 million hours in time and talent to essential fieldwork. Brian led a spirited panel discussion entitled βConserving the Planet through Experiential Serviceβ for the Josh Miner Experiential Education Panel during Reunions that included: Associate Dean of the College Peter Quimby, Outdoor Action Director Rick Curtis β79, and Rory Truex β07 founder of the Summer of Service Program in China.
Notes from the Trailhead
Send us your latest stories on the enclosed membership form.
Ed Seliga β75 was re-elected to the Board of the U.S. Green Building Council and will help install a 10 kW solar power system at the Princeton-Blairstown Center.
Deborah Teltscher β77 climbed the cable route up Half Dome in Yosemite with her children, Rebecca and Joel.
Muscoe Martin β78 took his four children to the top of Half Dome last summer. He stated βtaking the βeasyβ route we had a terrific hike on a beautiful Yosemite day.β
Jason Gold β81 spent a week with his children in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. While taking whitewater rafting trip on the Chattooga he happened to meet up with a current OA leader, Hannah Grimm β09, who was guiding the trip.
Philip Starr, M.D., Ph.D. β83 climbed Mt. Shasta in California by the Hotlum Glacier Route.
Jil Robbins Pollock β85 took a NOLS trip down the Salmon River in Idaho with her husband, John, and her children, John and Claire. She stated βitβs a great way to introduce kids to camping!β
After meeting on an OA winter camping trip in 1996, Eliot Kent-Uritam β98 and Gillian Ashenfelter β99 married last year and spent their honeymoon in New Zealand.
Brian Bennett β00 spent the summer of 2006 rock climbing at Great Falls, VA just 13 miles from his apartment in Washington, D.C. He has a new climbing partner β his wife, Anne Tsai Bennett (Harvard β00).
Thomas Pastorius β03 is working with Projects Abroad in New York City and recently returned from a trip to Sri Lanka.
Former OA leaders Louise Lamphere β04 and Louis Beryl β03 were married on February 3rd.
Leader Trainer Lisa Newman-Wise β05 completed the Iron Man Triathalon in Hawaii in 11:35:52 on October 13 and was 13th in her age group for women. Contratulations, Lisa!
Thanks to Everyone Who Supported OA This Year!
David Wilson β53
Phebe Miner W43
Peter Willauer β56
Chester Rice β44
John Kauffmann β45