This fall I have been back in upstate New York working for Colgate University's Outdoor Education Program. Back in my college days, I was a student staff member of the program, and now I'm the Interim Assistant Director of Outdoor Education. It was through this program that I received my training to become an outdoor educator and guide, so for me it is a great privilege to come back and mentor students like I was once mentored.
This semester I have been mainly instructing the climbers in the program. The program also trains the staff on paddling, caving, stand-up paddle boarding, and backpacking. Lucky for me, the two other full-time staff take care of the other activities, and I am able to focus on developing the skills of the program's climbers. This fall, I have supervised student staff led rock climbing and bouldering physical education courses. Basically, I teach the student staff how to lead a trip, and then they teach courses for the general student body under my supervisor. These P.E. courses, whether it is rock climbing, whitewater kayaking, or backpacking, are the bread and butter of our Outdoor Education Program. They are also how I gained experience guiding rock and ice climbing back when first started as an outdoor educator. However, my favorite part of working for Colgate University would be the break trips that I get to organize and lead. This trips are specially designed to further students' technical skills and leadership experience.
For fall break, I took a group of students to Rumney, NH for rock climbing. The trip included all ranges of abilities and class years of students. Everyone was able to learn new skills, both in terms of climbing techniques and leadership tactics. For me, it was a great four days of taking in the fall colors and getting to mentor some budding outdoor educators.
These past few weeks, I have been finalizing the logistics for our winter break ice climbing and backcountry skiing trip to the Mount Washington area of New Hampshire. Mount Washington may be in the East, but it has winter conditions that can rival and surpass that of most of the mountains out in the Rockies. In fact, the strongest wind ever recorded happened on Mount Washington in 1934. We have several days of ice climbing training planned and then will attempt to climb a 1000 foot ice gully to the summit of the mountain. I've been up there a bunch, but none of the students have… I hope they are ready for the cold wind!
Overall, this semester has been going great. I still get to work outside (its kind of like play though isn't it?), and I thoroughly enjoy mentoring the blossoming outdoor educators. And one of the best parts? I only work during the school year, so when I start to miss Seward, I know that I'll be back again in May!
Also, as you can tell, Black Hawk Down (EGG guide and Colgate Outdoor Education Student Staff) still loves taking selfies!