This fall, 18 students dedicated most of their weekends to the Outing Club’s fall Leadership Training, traveling to remote areas across Maine to learn the skills that will prepare them to lead outdoor trips.
LT, as it’s commonly called, is an intensive training course that takes place every fall, winter and spring for students who apply through a competitive process. It includes an eight-day Wilderness First Responder class over winter break.
Besides learning outdoor survival skills, LT students learn leadership styles and acquire knowledge of group dynamics so they can safely lead people in the field. Only after the successful completion of LT can a student lead a trip for the Bowdoin Outing Club.
Recently, three fall 2012 LT participants, Peter Yanson ’16, Daniel Cohen ’15 and Erin Leddy ’15, talked with Bowdoin Daily Sun about their experience.
Cohen summed up the training this way: “We focused on the hard skills – how to light stoves, set up tents, how to create a bombproof site,” he said with a laugh. “As well as the soft skills, more your leadership skills.”
Cohen said he had signed up for LT to get involved in something new and avoid the “sophomore slump.” Plus, he added, “The Outing Club is such a happy place and I’m really glad to be a part of it.”
Yanson said the best part of LT was the friendships he formed. “It’s cool that I met all these people I probably never would have met,” he said. “It’s a good way of bringing people together, and a good opportunity to enjoy Maine.” Yanson grew up in Naples, Florida.
The Outing Club is a great, incredible resource, and Maine is an incredible state. LT is the best way to take advantage of both.”
-Erin Leddy ’15
Leddy, who is from Chicago, agreed: “The Outing Club is a great, incredible resource, and Maine is an incredible state. LT is the best way to take advantage of both.”
Many of the weekend training courses extended from Friday afternoon to Sunday evening, and took place in far-off spots, such as Flagstaff Lake, the Bigelow peaks and the White Mountains. The trips were led by experienced students, as well as Outing Club Director Michael Woodruff and his two assistant directors, Becca Austin and Devin Farkas.
The training this fall included courses on whitewater rafting, rock climbing, canoeing, orienteering, backpacking and canoeing. Students learned map and compass navigation; trip planning and logistics (food, gear, emergency preparedness, transportation); gear use, maintenance and repair; cooking; natural history; and low-impact camping techniques. This fall’s training culminated in a five-day expedition on the West Branch of the Penobscot River over fall break.
In the future, Leddy and Yanson said they’d like to lead trips up Mount Katahdin, Maine’s highest peak. Cohen said he wants to design trips, such as mushroom foraging expeditions, that appeal to more “non-athletic” types.
Although the time commitment of LT forces students to be extremely efficient to get their coursework done, Leddy said the days spent in the outdoors were rejuvenating. “Being on campus can be so stressful, like a little pressure cooker,” she said.
Cohen echoed Leddy, saying he appreciated the trips as a chance to use his mind differently by focusing on non-academic skills.
“And,” Yanson said, “you do it with people who are your best friends.”
The students who completed LT this fall are Dan Cohen ’15, Peter Yanson ’16, Paul Sullivan ’16, Eric Levenson ’15, Matt Collins ’15, Barrett Wood ’12, Andrew Haeger ’16, Elizabeth Brown ’15, Molly Knox, Erin Leddy ’15, Alex N’Diaye ’15, Sam Garvey ’16, Quinn Yi ’15, Clare McLaughlin ’15, Lucy Green ’15, Sara Hamilton ’16, Delger Erdenesanaa ’15 and Hanni Haynes ’15.