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APR. 6, 2016

Bravery at OA

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Johan Taljaard, Social Media and Marketing Coordinator

I have a fortunate view of Semesters as they come and go. As the Social Media and Marketing Coordinator for Eagle’s Nest and OA, I get to watch a lot of the action of a semester through a camera lens. I strive to capture the candid moments that reflect the spirit of specific activities.

Because of my role I get to be on outdoor trips while not being in a leadership position, allowing my view to be that of a participant, which I think is an important element to showing the world out there what we get up to here on campus and in the wild places.

Because of my position I’ve witnessed numerous feats of personal bravery from our students. I’ve watched students that have had but a picnic under the belt go out for 10 Day Treks through consistent downpour (we’re in Transylvania County remember). I’ve watched students with varying degrees of acrophobia (fear of heights) muster up the courage to take on the slab and get the awesome view from the top.  I saw Semester 42 take on their Orientaion Trek (Day 1-3 of their time here) in the snow. Yes, the first 3 days of OA, out in the wild, in the snow, with a bunch of new faces.


Most recently I had the fortune of accompanying Semester 42 on a 3-day paddling trip in East Tennessee. Conditions we’re great on day one, but changed drastically on day two. Cool temperatures coupled with strong erratic gusts of wind made getting into the boat seem like a silly idea.

At this point I’ll admit that my boat flipped on day two in a rapid that was about as daunting as Daffy Duck. We had some nervous paddlers before that, and my boat flipping did not help any. However, they all proceeded to run the rapid and emabarrasingly, no else flipped. Bruised ego, much? You bet. Add to that a plumetting body temperature manifested in shivers and feet that seemed purple and somewhat translucent. Yikes.


What impressed was how the students kept hitting every rapid without hesitation, perhaps to their detriment, but nonetheless, courage was on display! I watched some boats hitting the rapid at less than desirable angles,  yet but by commiting to it, make it out unscathed. I watched another boat get sucked in by a side current, forcing them down a different door of the rapid backwards!




We had a boat flip on the biggest rapid of the trip and again to my surprise saw no complaints or motions to give up and bail out. Even when given the chance to skip certain rapids, every boat went down.

Perhaps it’s the community at OA that fosters courage and embraces challenge, or maybe it’s the fact that our students are so committed to their experience that they’re willing to take on anything for the sake of the life skills that can be learnt at a school such as ours. Whatever it is, as a staff member, I am impressed by it and consider it a privilege to capture these moments to show to the world what we’re up to.

Feel free to meander through our Flickr Page and see or perhaps relive some experiences our students get to enjoy during a typical Semester at OA.

Johan Taljaard, Social Media and Marketing Coordinator