Rick Curtis '79
September rolled around and finally all of the summer's hard work and preparations were complete. Group equipment boxes were packed, food was loaded into Ziploc bags, and leaders arrived early to practice first aid skills, map and compass, and stove repair. Frosh Trip '96 had begun. Once again we broke the record books with OA's largest program ever, 53% of the Class of '00 (592 students - 297 men and 285 women) and 181 OA leaders for a total of 773 students. Seventy-two different wilderness trips traveled in 8 states: Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont. Since 1974, over 7,000 incoming students have participated in the Frosh Trip Program. The OA Frosh Trip is the largest Wilderness Orientation Program in the United States (based on participant days)!
The program went extremely well. Temperatures wee mild and unlike last year, water was abundant. In some places, too abundant. Hurricane Fran caused some commotion down in Shenandoah National Park. Half-way through the trip, Virginia was hit with two days of heavy rain (before the hurricane). Realizing that some groups might be unable to cross swollen streams to get back to their bus pickups on Friday, we began picking up groups on Thursday and relocating them to Big Meadows Campground within the park. Later that day, the rangers informed us that due to heavy rains and high wind from Hurricane Fran, the park was going to be closed and everyone needed to be evacuated. We ferried all the groups by van down to the Ramada Inn in Luray, Virginia before the storm hit. The next day, the all of the roads out of Luray were closed due to flooding and mudslides, so the groups "roughed it" in the Ramada until late Friday when the roads reopened.
The OA Climbing Wall was one of the first University climbing walls. The original section was built in 1983, long before climbing gyms became popular. In 1989, a new section, designed by famous Shawangunks climber Mike Freeman was added. The use of the facility has grown tremendously, on any afternoon there are 20_30 students, grad students and staff learning how to climb and working out. Thanks to the Wall and many instructional classes, OA has helped to foster a thriving climbing community at Princeton. The Wall is also being used as a special challenge activity for inner city youth that are part of the OA/PBC Community Service initiative.
The current facility is simply not adequate to support the number of students climbing there on a regular basis. OA has hired an outside designer to create a new wall section incorporating state-of-the-art climbing features. We hope to "break rock" on the new section this winter. OA needs alumni support to raise the $8,000 needed to cover the costs of building the new structure and to renovate and improve the original wall. If you are interested in making a pledge to the new Wall, please indicate the amount on your Friends membership form.
On September 20, the board of the Princeton Blairstown Center ratified the agreement for Outdoor Action to become part of the Center. The agreement calls for Princeton University to continue to provide salary and budgetary support for OA from the Dean of Student Life Office. Administrative oversight of the program moves from the Dean of Student Life to Hendricks Davis, the Executive Director of Blairstown. Rick Curtis '79, the OA Director was welcomed as a new member of the Blairstown family.
Throughout this year OA and Blairstown will be doing a variety of activities to celebrate our joining and to establish closer ties. The first of these this fall was an OA Leaders' retreat up to the camp the first weekend of classes. Fifty leaders went up and spent the day at Blairstown with activities that included rock climbing, the high ropes course, canoeing, kayaking, new games and a barbecue. It was a great way for OA leaders to spend time together and to learn about Blairstown. Most students had never been up to the camp and there was a lot of interest in what it would be like to work there with inner-city youth over the summer. This is just the type of cross-fertilization that we hope to bring about. We will keep you up-to date about other events that are coming up.
OA began it's first joint program with PBC in October. The Families in Training Program (FIT) is a pilot program working with the Imani Church in downtown Trenton. Eight Princeton students (OA Leaders) are working with eight African American families once a week to improve family interaction, teach communication skills, conflict resolution skills, and to create opportunities for families to spend some fun time together. Most are single parent families with kids ranging in age from 14 months to 16 years old.
Leaders are using the same group building techniques and adventure initiatives that they use on the trail to help bring families together. For example, the first session, families played Stepping Stones. Each person was given a 6 x 8 inch carpet square and was told to write on the bottom of it some quality that made a family work well. Then each family member needed to share what they had written. Now the challenge was for the entire family to get from one side of the room to the other stepping only on the carpet squares. If at any time they lost contact with one of the squares (or family qualities) they lost the square. Of course this required lots of cooperation and a great deal of laughter. When a carpet square was lost (which always happens) families were asked what they would have to do to get that quality back (patience for example). When they demonstrated that quality, the carpet square returned.
This is the type of experiential education that has benefited so many Princeton students over the years. Watching the OA leaders offer this learning to the families form the Imani church has been a powerful experience for everyone. The FIT program leaders for the fall semester are:
Suzie Douglas '97
Kirsten Ehkdahl '99
Andrew Levin '99
Tiffany O'Brien '97
Liz Pearce '99
Caroline Sincerbeaux '98
Kelly Sponberg '98
OA had a full Fall Break with six Leader Training Trips heading out as well as two Backpacking Trips and a Canoeing Trip to Assateague Island. Unusually mild weather made for great hiking in Shenandoah National Park and the Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia. A number of the groups were clambering over downed trees caused by the high winds from Hurricane Fran.
As part of the merger with the Princeton Blairstown Center, OA is carefully examining and developing new protocols and practices. Rick Curtis and Sean Hartman '98 traveled up to Maine in October to participate in the Third Annual Wilderness Risk Managers Conference sponsored by Outward Bound and the National Outdoor Leadership School. The conference brought outdoor educators and program directors form across the country together to focusing on safety and risk management for outdoor programs.
The conference puts OA at the cutting edge of the field. We learned a lot at the conference and there are a range of new initiatives to implement. OA Leaders from the different committees will be working with Rick, members of the Friends of OA Board and members of the Blairstown staff to draft a comprehensive safety management program. This will also serve to complete many of the recommendations made by the Peer Review Team that visited OA last February.
With the official joining of Outdoor Action and the Princeton Blairstown Center, OA is no longer a part of the Dean of Student Life Office. OA has moved into it's new office on the second floor of Clio Hall (where Career Services used to be). This will be OA's home for the next 1-2 years until a larger space can be found to accommodate both OA and the Blairstown office. Stop by our new home if you are on campus.
We are working on two alumni programs for summer 1997. These are still in the planning stages so final dates and pricing aren't available but we wanted to give you a heads up on the programs. Please check the space on your membership form if you are interested in more information or check out the OA Web Site for information. (www.princeton.edu/~oa/alumtrip.html).
This will be a four-day trip offered as part of the 250 service projects for the 250th Anniversary of Princeton. We will spend four days at the rustic Ponderosa Lodge in Salida, Colorado with day trips including whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River, mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking, and fly fishing. We will also do a summit climb of Mount Princeton (14,269). This should be a wonderful family vacation as well as a great OA rendezvous. The 250th Committee is hoping to get 250 alums on the climb. People doing the climb are asked to pledge an amount per thousand feet to support summer camper scholarships at the Princeton Blairstown Center. Tentative dates are July 15-20, 1997.
Note: The Ladahk trek has been moved to July, 1998. We are offering our third exploration of the Himalayan region with Carroll Dunham '85. This trip will be a fifteen-day trek through the kingdom of Ladahk in the Indian Himalayas. Ladahk lies on the Tibetan plateau in the most remote region of India. We will depart from Delhi and fly to Leh, the capital of Ladahk at 11,500 feet where we will spend a few days touring the valley around Leh and acclimatizing before starting our trek. Over the next ten days we will hike onto the Tibetan plateau with spectacular views of the Himalayan peaks. Each day brings new villages, Buddhist monasteries, and encounters with the people and culture of Ladahk. Most of the trek will be between 12,000 to 14,000 feet with several passes at 16,000+ feet. Carroll is a spectacular guide who has lived in Nepal and traveled throughout the region for over a decade. This is undoubtedly the most intimate experience with the Himalayas you can have. Tentative trip dates: July 15 - 30, 1997.
Association for Experiential Education Conference
The 24th annual Association for Experiential Education (AEE) Conference was held in Spokane in September. Rick Curtis ran workshops on Training College Wilderness Leaders and Building a Web Site. AEE is the major organization that brings in educators from across the country who are working in experiential settings especially those in outdoor education including Outward Bound and NOLS. OA has been an active participant in AEE for almost a decade and is seen as a leader in college outdoor education programs across the US. We are also the host site for the AEE Web site and their email list. If you are involved in education it's an excellent resource group. Check out the AEE Web site for more information.
One of the offshoot benefits of Outdoor Action is that more and more OA Leaders are expressing interest in careers in experiential education, outdoor education, and environmental service. In order to help leaders and other students with these interests identify career directions, OA is planning an Outdoor and Environmental Careers panel in February. The goal is to bring alumni with experience in these fields back to campus to meet with students and explore career options. If you would be interested in volunteering, please indicate this on the membership form or contact Rick Curtis at the OA Office. We are also looking for outdoor and environmental internship possibilities for students. If your organization has internships or job openings either for summer or post-graduate, please let us know.
The merger with the Princeton Blairstown Center means a whole new role for the Friends of OA Board. As co-chair Andy Brown '69 said, "Now we don't need to spend all our energy just making sure OA survives, we can focus on making it the best program it can be." The Board will be involved in a range of new projects including helping develop the risk management plan, working on fund raising for new initiatives, and interfacing with the Princeton Blairstown Board to help grow the new Community Service Program. If you are interested in joining a dedicated group of Princeton alums to help continue Outdoor Action's growth, please let us know on your membership renewal or contact Rick at the OA Office.
Here's the latest on what's happening to OA Alums out there in the hinterlands.
Robert "Brownie" Schoene '68 spent last winter as the ship physician on an expedition to Antarctica and South Georgia Island. He also led a Mountain Travel/Sobek medical education trip to travel in Tanzania and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. He is doing a similar medical trip with Mountain Travel next summer to Machu Pichu in the Peruvian Andes.
Bob Pond '78 has gotten in several camping trips in Africa where he travels to work with ministries of health. Recent trips have included the Serengeti and Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe.
Heather Liston '83 working this past summer as a Sierra Club Service Trip leader helping to repair flood damage to Mt. Ranier National Park. One of her trip participants was OA Leader Jason Pelletier '92.
Beth Haase '85 and Andy Meyers '85 took their daughters (classes of 2015 and 2017) on their first hikes through the Maritime Alps of France. Beth is a fourth year psychiatric resident at Columbia and Andy is a Ph.D. Candidate in history at Columbia teaching at the Fieldston School.
Una Smith '87 is finishing her Ph.D. in paleobotany at Yale. Last December she discovered the first known dinosaur trackway in Scotland which is now on display at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow.
Madeline Nagy '90 spent 1995 volunteering for a year in Costa Rica teaching English with WorldTeach. She trekked to the summit of Chirripó, Costa Rica's highest peak at 12,500 feet. This past August she and her sister Adrianne Nagy '87 spent three days backpacking in the Shenandoahs retracing the steps of previous OA trips.
Anthony Trask '91 lead a ski mountaineering trip to Mount Shasta in the Sierras last April using Randoneé (alpine mountaineering) ski gear. When his climbing partner got frostbite in his big toe, they aborted their summit attempt, skiing back down the "awesome bowls" to rewarm his partner's toes.
John Keatley '95 headed out after graduation with OA Leaders Carrie Davidson '95, Todd Lookingbill '95, and Ken Zaloom '95 for a trekking trip in Thailand that included a rock climbing course on the limestone cliffs of southern Thailand.
Send us your latest news on happenings and adventures for the next issue of Tiger Trails.
Clio Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544
Name ______________________________________________________ Class __________
City ________________________________________ State _________ Zip ____________
Email Address ____________________________________ (if you want to get email updates about OA)
_____Please check if this is a new address.
Friends of Outdoor Action Membership Dues for 1997
_____ $5.00 Student dues
_____ $20.00 Friend/Parent dues
_____ $40.00 Pathfinder dues
_____ $60.00 Trail Breaker dues
_____ $100.00 Wilderness Steward dues
_____ Other Contribution $_______________
Please make checks payable to the Outdoor Action Program. All contributions are tax deductible to the fullest extent and eligible for matching gift programs.
Zander Scott '92 Scholarship Fund $_______________ Building endowment for Frosh Trip scholarships.
Climbing Wall Addition $_______________ Fund for an expanded indoor rock climbing facility.
Climbing to New Heights Campaign $_______________ Building long term endowment for Outdoor Action.
_____ Please send me more information on the Climbing to New Heights Campaign.
Please make checks payable to the Outdoor Action Program. If you send one check, please specify what amount is for membership and what amount is for the capital campaign. All contributions are tax deductible and eligible for gift matching programs.
Current tax laws require that the fair market value of an item received as part of a gift be subtracted from the amount which is considered tax deductible.
_____ $15.00 OA T-shirt, ash gray with two-color logo (100% cotton). Size:__________
($5 of your gift is a tax deductible contribution to OA)
_____ $15.00 OA Leader T-shirt, forest green with white logo (100% cotton). Size:__________
($5 of your gift is a tax deductible contribution to OA)
_____ $25.00 OA Leader's Manual - Third Edition ($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.
_____ I am interested in serving on the Friends of OA Board.
_____ I am interested in being a resource person for the Outdoor/Environmental Careers Program.
_____ I am interested in serving as a class representative helping to organize OA events in my area.
_____ I am interested in helping with the OA Capital Campaign.
Send us your news about what you are doing or your latest outdoor adventures for the next issue of Tiger Trails.
If you are interested in participating in either of the summer programs, please let us know and we will send you detailed information as it becomes available.
_____ Please send me more information on the Mt. Princeton Family Climb. I am interested in _____ spaces on the program.
_____ Please send me more information on the Ladahk Program for summer 1998. I am interested in _____ spaces on the program.
The Outdoor Action World Wide Web Site includes a range of Internet resources accessible from this Home Page. The information provided here is designed for educational use only and is not a substitute for specific training or experience. Princeton University and the author assume no liability for any individual's use of or reliance upon any material contained or referenced herein. When going into outdoors it is your responsibility to have the proper knowledge, experience, and equipment to travel safely. The material contained at the Web Site may not be the most current. This material may be freely distributed for nonprofit educational use. However, if included in publications, written or electronic, attributions must be made to the author. Commercial use of this material is prohibited without express written permission from the author. Copyright © 1997, all rights reserved, Rick Curtis, Outdoor Action Program, Princeton University.