The Fall semester has begun in earnest. This semester, I’m taking three classes in my major, Environmental Studies, and one Kinesiology class, which is required for my degree, Outdoor Leadership.
On Wednesday, of last week, in my Adapted Physical Ed. class, someone made the comment that many folks believe the Environmental Studies program, and especially the Outdoor Leadership section, is like “getting a degree in hiking.”
I don’t know why I’d never heard that before, but I actually think it’s funny. I mean, who wouldn’t want a degree in hiking?! I want a Masters in hiking! Maybe even a Ph.D. in camping!
Which made my Friday Outdoor Leadership class even more awesome. This class only meets five times during the semester. For our first class, we went to a high ropes course in Occidental. Yeah. I’m getting credit for being outside having fun. Jealous?
OK, so it’s not all fun and games. We’re actually there to learn how to be guides and docents and other jobs under the heading of Outdoor Leadership. I mean, we had to learn how to lead a circle, where to stand, and how to get people to engage by using games and … OK, I admit it. It was fun.
I didn’t really care much for the high ropes part. Or, more correctly, I didn’t care to go up on the high ropes structures, but it was loads of fun down on the ground watching everyone else and helping out with the belay ropes.
The first structure was a ladder next to a tree. You had to climb the ladder (OK, I can do that), and then climb the tree using the metal staples hammered into the side of it (no, not going to happen), swing yourself around to the tiny little platform, and then walk across a “bridge” of similarly tiny pieces of wood about 3 feet apart. I volunteered to hold the ropes for everyone else. Just watching them was enough excitement for me, thank you very much.
The second structure (above) was a net strung up between two trees, with a series of horizontal logs at weird angles above it. You had to climb the net, then find a way up to the top log, while tethered to a partner. I did attempt to climb the net, and made it about halfway up before I realized it would require putting my bum knee into a bad situation (I can’t bend it much past about 45°. Thankfully, the general rule is “Challenge by Choice,” so my decision to stay on the ground was supported by everyone.
And then, at the end of a very fun afternoon hanging out in the woods, learning and pushing ourselves, we hiked back to the van, laughing and talking the whole way. This is a great class, and it’s made a zillion times better by the fact that everyone involved is excited about the class and about learning how to be a better leader, which means being personable and outgoing.
Also, next week? We’re going white water rafting.