Snowshoeing is a relatively new adventure for us. Though I had long been interested in the sport, it wasn’t until our students in the Outdoor Adventure Club asked me to take them snowshoeing that I found the time to learn. Two years ago I took a winter training workshop through the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Youth Opportunities Program, which not only taught me how to snowshoe, but also gave me access to the AMC’s YOP winter gear for my students! (Gear is often a barrier for inner-city kids, but YOP eliminates this obstacle by lending equipment to urban groups like ours.)
Since that workshop, we’ve taken our teens snowshoeing many times, including an annual overnight trip to western Massachusetts. We stay at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Noble View Outdoor Center in an awesome cottage with a huge kitchen and wood burning stoves to keep us warm. This year not only did we get support from YOP, but Tubbs sponsored us as well, sending out snowshoes for us to use for the weekend!
As always, we had an awesome time. Because the blizzard Neptune hit during our trip, we only got to snowshoe for one day, but we made the best of it with a 4.26 mile day hike to frozen waterfalls, and a night hike filled with science lessons.
Though I usually detail our adventures in a trip report, this year, I thought it would be neat to actually share the experiences of the students from their point of view – so here’s what they thought about our adventures!
“I was born and raised in the capital city of Cambodia. I love the nature as well as being outdoors. However, it has never been safe to go hiking in an adventurous way in Cambodia. Thus, I never had a chance to discover my ‘dauntless’ and outdoorsy side. It was my dream to go on adventurous trips.
The outdoor adventure club allowed me to experience the phenomenal outdoor-activities. The night hikes were unbelievably and incredibly AWESOME! The two night hikes I ever went to are still the best experience I have ever had in my life! The OAC has opened my eyes to a whole new perspective of life and everything mother nature has given to us. The OAC has inspired me to do things that I only dreamt of doing! #outdoorforlife!” – Votey, senior
“My experiences with the outdoor club helped improve my public speaking as an ‘ELL’ [English Language Learner] student. I will always miss this club as I’m graduating and I will miss all the fun things it has. The outdoor club is not just a fun club, but it is more educational to me. I love it to death.” – Clarice, senior
“For my whole life, I hated the ‘great outdoors.’ I hated camping and hiking long distances and getting cold while tiring yourself out. However, with this weekend adventure at Noble View, my beliefs were completely changed. I realized that snowshoeing, hiking, and just plainly being outside was a wonderful and enjoyable experience. I understood why it’s so much fun. The friends you make, the incredible sights you see, the things you learn, all of those make the great outdoors a fantastic place to be.” – Andre, sophomore
“It is mind-blowing. The hiking, the bonding, the warm feeling of a family. You can’t find it everyday…It makes me feel happy. I’ve never had this kind of fun with my family.” – Melissa, senior
It’s not hard to understand why we keep going back year after year, or why we run the club. When you get to work with amazing students, and give them a positive experience that impacts their lives, how can you NOT give your time?
And quite honestly, we benefit from the experience too. Our children LOVE hanging out with all the “cool” teenagers who lavish them with attention, teach them how to count in Arabic, Khmer, and all sorts of languages, and provide endless attention and snuggles. And our lives are enriched by the experiences of our students – they come from so many corners of the world, bringing with them the food and traditions of their home countries, which they are eager to share during our trips.
OAC senior, Clarice, sums it up best, “The club gives me more opportunities to create friends and become a family.”