Andes Outdoor Club takes New Hampshire excursion

 

By John Bernhardt

As the calendar changes to April most folks in Delaware County have long since lost their enthusiasm for snow. People are itching for a couple of warm days and the chance to peel away the last layers of “cabin fever” and get started on some outside activities.

So it might seem a wee bit odd to find a group of Andes students and staff on an Outdoor Club excursion in the snowy world of the Appalachian Mountain Club Highland Center at Crawford Notch State Park in New Hampshire. 

The Andes contingent must have felt they had entered another world as Route I-81 ran out; over seven hours from home in the wilds of northern New Hampshire. With waist-high snow covered mountain terrain, Crawford Notch lies adjacent to Mount Washington, the tallest of America’s eastern mountains. In fact, the Delaware County adventurers learned that Mount Washington is home to plant species found in no other locations south of the Arctic.

For three days and two nights staff from the education center taught the Andes party about using and conserving natural resources to survive in the wild. The Highland Center is a green facility providing educational and conferencing programming. The center utilizes only resources that are environmentally friendly. The student group increased their environmental consciousness during their stay. For example, all foods served were organic and students were taught to take portions that reflected only what they needed to adequately fuel their bodies.

The theme of the quest was outdoor survival. The first day was packed with program sessions where students learned compassing, topography, orienteering, and survival skills that would allow them to manage in severe outdoor environments. Students then utilized the skills they learned to plan and execute a hiking expedition the following day to the top of Willard Mountain. 

Integrated mathematics and science skills were a major part of each program session. For example, using topographical maps and other tools provided by the center, the students worked as a team to create a hiking itinerary they would use to guide their hiking activity the following day.  

The program emphasized outdoor survival in extreme cold and wet conditions. LL Bean Outdoor wear was provided by the center as part of the program.  

Evening sessions focused on teambuilding skills students need to work successfully in groups. Once again, the activities were real, with students utilizing the skills they learned to complete tasks that were included as part of the following days programming.  

Five students and three staff members took part in the activities. Mathematics teacher and Outdoor Club advisor Jeanine Scinta planned the outing. Social Studies teacher Jon Pecori and teacher assistant/bus driver Wendy Redden also took part in the mountain hikes.