Wednesday, September 12th, 2012...3:33 pm

Backpacking, Climbing, and Canoeing, Oh My!

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by Matt Chaney

Pathways, a pre-orientation program for incoming freshman and transfer students, started in 2008 and introduces new students not only to the William and Mary Outdoor Recreation community by traveling as a group to outdoor locales across the state, but also introduces students to what life at the college will be like. Participants take part in a variety of challenging and fun activities including backpacking, whitewater canoeing, sea kayaking, rock climbing, paddle boarding, or trips that combine the aforementioned.  All of this is done with the intention of pushing one’s personal boundaries in order to become more acquainted with oneself, one’s environment, and with the necessary skills that will help one safely enjoy these activities in the future.

Personally, this year (2012) was my first time working as a pathways trip leader, working with two co-leaders to lead one of the Explore Virginia trips (one day of paddle boarding on Lake Matoaka, one day of climbing at Manchester Wall in Richmond, and one day of canoeing on the Shenandoah River).  There are too many awesome memories to recount, but highlights include: wading in the James in the heart of Richmond, witnessing students overcome their fear and rappel for the first time, learning to paddle board myself for the first time (surprisingly less daunting than it seems), taking a break to check out a rope swing on the Shenandoah, all the campfires every night, dancing and playing games from atop Reddish Knob near Harrisonburg, and getting to know all my pathways kids (not to mention all the Roni dude).

Anyway, it was a lovely experience and I highly recommend it to all incoming students in the future.  Beyond that, I encourage all students to get involved in continuing to foster an outdoors community here at the college—join the Outdoors or Climbing clubs, take some kinesiology courses (Adventure Games, Canoeing, Winter Camping, Rock Climbing…to name a few), or last but not least come check out what the Outdoor Recreation Program has got going on. Whether it’s coming to the rock wall (open 4-10 PM Mon., Tues., Thur.; 4-9 PM Wed., Fri.; 12-6 Sat. and Sun.), taking a FREE climbing clinic with our resident rock pros, or going on a Halloween themed haunted backpacking trip, we’ve got a lot of fun stuff planned.  That said, Outdoor Rec can only be as awesome as you make it, so come on by and get involved!

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