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OCT. 20, 2017

Paddling and Climbing at OA

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In September, the students of Semester 45 enjoyed their first three-day paddling and climbing trips. We are always trying to push our students out of their comfort zones, in a safe and controlled setting. This helps them grow and become more confident. Instead of rambling on about the weekend, I thought it would be nice to have two different students talk about their experiences on these trips.

Thoughts on climbing by Ava C., Semester 45 student

“Why do you climb?” Huddled around the campfire after and exciting day, this was the question my group attempted to answer. We had spent the past few days perfecting our figure-8 nots, learning climbing commands, and finally, making our way up the face of the rock. Most importantly, somewhere along the way, we had learned to trust each other.

It was the second day of our climbing trip that significantly stuck out to me. As I belayed everyone and watched them, I realized that we had all become more confident. It was incredible to watch everyone’s reaction when they first glimpsed the view from the top, and to hear everyone encouraging them from down below. It was also incredible to lower someone off the rock and feel their weight descending in the rope resting in my hands.

I felt strong when I started climbing, knowing that the rope would catch me if I lost my grip. I learned to trust my own self; strategically placing my feet in places that would hold me. When I got to the top, I sat and stared at the rolling mountains. “How’s the view?” someone shouted from below. “It’s beautiful!” I called back.

So I think I climb for a lot of reasons. I think I climb because I feel a connection when I trust people and they can trust me. I think I climb because it teaches me to trust myself, and it shows me beauty. And finally climbing helps me face my fears.

Even if I’m back on campus or paddling on the river, I’ll remember the feeling of my hands against the rock, the mountains below me, and the people I trust the most cheering me on.

Thoughts on paddling by Joe V., Semester 45 student

As I walked down to the lake to get my PFD and paddle, I ran through thoughts in my head about my upcoming trip. I was walking with someone who was not very excited about paddling, though by the end, he still had a good time. This affected me a little, I became a bit more nervous and more thoughts raced through my mind. What if it rains for 72 hours? What if my boat flips and someone’s beloved personal gear floats downstream? Even as those thoughts carried on, I was able to channel them, and was all in all excited. After some loading of personal gear, we hit the road. We had a long drive ahead of us, but it went very quickly. By the time we got there, we were all a little tired, but we unloaded gear quickly and waited for some of the instructors to come back after taking our van to the takeout. As we sat along the river eating humus and cheese tortillas I realized something, I was with thirteen of my closest friends from the past month, and no matter what happened, I would have fun. From there we rigged some boats, learned some things, and then, after the long wait, got on the river!

The first day was filled with laughter, good moments, and good memories. We got to camp after a short day filled with consistent small rapids. We ate food, talked, and ended the night with some beautiful stargazing. We all went to sleep dreaming of the big day ahead of us. We got up the next morning ready to go. We got on the river ready and able for the thirteen mile day ahead of us. Someone in our group flipped their canoe relatively early on in the day. It was a blessing in disguise though, as everybody, included me, realized that flipping wasn’t terrible at all, and actually really fun. We kept going downriver and finally got to camp. We quickly set up tents and ate food so we could have plenty of sleep. The next day was by far the hardest day, while not the longest; it was something we were prepared for. Our fist obstacle came in the form of a class III rapid. It went by the name of Dynamite Ledge, very intimidating. We scouted out the rapid and went one at a time, cheering each other on as went down. Only 3 boats out of 10 flipped and we all made it past the ledge. One of the best moments on the trip was when a boat flipped and everyone jumped in the water to rescue the boat.

It was great to see how far we had come since just 48 hours before. We all got into our boats and headed downriver, but not before peeking on how the Outward Bound group behind was doing on that rapid. Almost all of them flipped, which gave us a huge jolt of confidence. We kept going as we went through wave trains and crazy rapids. Some even decided to go down these backwards.  Could hear shouts of “shred the GNAR!” and “That was AWESOME!” that were completely absent the first two days. In the end, it was a great experience, and one that I will remember for a long time.