For outdoor sportspeople, the cycle of the seasons not only parallels the media we consume and the recreation we pursue, but our behavioral norms. Whichever activity holds the most hallowed space in their hearts fuels a relentless appetite for movement and exploration. While some would argue that their thirst for adventure transcends their most specialized skillsets, there’s no hiding the mania that accompanies their season. For a tight-knit community of winter people at St. Lawrence, the culprit of this outdoor-induced mania is skiing and snowboarding.
There’s an almost palpable electricity that encompasses all facets of life when in season. An energy source not easily tapped into in less familiar settings. The type of eternal well that can turn a day’s enterprises into a week’s worth of accomplishments. The first big snowfall of the year announces the beginning of 5 a.m. wakeups, questionable road trips, routine weather tracking, and, of course, identifying what audacious act will earn bragging rights until the next season rolls around.
The pursuit of the perfect powder day or the maximum amount of resort laps is a seemingly trivial pursuit, yet it has taken my friends and me to some of the most incredible places on the planet while acting as a catalyst to personal growth. Time management is an obvious hard skill born from the meticulous planning involved as well as the delicate balance with school and social obligations in college. But the underlying values and ideologies associated with our passion are far more empowering than our ability to organize tasks.
Managing time is a great skill, but accurately assessing risk in order to push one’s physical boundaries in the face of legitimate physical consequences develops an approach to problem solving that is both confident and calculated. No matter where an individual’s academic and career skillsets lie, if he or she is an adept skier or snowboarder, then all obstacles in life become approachable and maneuverable.
My time at St. Lawrence has allowed me to cultivate and explore this lifestyle to a point I had never imagined. The pursuit of outdoor recreation synthesized with a desire for cultural enrichment lead a small group of my friends and me to New Zealand for a semester. The search for the best snow in eastern North America drives the annual Outing Club and Outdoor Program trips to northern Quebec in the Chic Choc Mountains at the mouth of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Beyond the trips that have become convention, from week- and semester-long outings to simple weekend expeditions, there is always the opportunity to coordinate a trip in unfamiliar territory by contacting alumni. Every winter, undergraduates make the pilgrimage to visit graduated friends living in ski towns out West, but there are also programs like SLU Connect-Mountain States that bring undergraduates out to Montana to network with alumni who live throughout the Rockies. On campus, there are a number of programs that get students into the outdoors, from classes to student clubs and organizations.
The Outing Club and the Outdoor Program at St. Lawrence have allowed me to develop a skillset that has transformed the way I approach skiing and snowboarding. As a current house member of the Outing Club and a Guide for the Outdoor Program, I have the opportunity to help others pursue their interests in winter outdoor recreation. The associated community and leadership born from the experiences are something that will stay with me long after my graduation this spring. I’m currently one of the 24 house members living in the Outing Club, and am incredibly proud to be a part of an organization that funds so many adventures for SLU students at low to no cost. The Outing Club is an organization that has been running so long it really seems like a living organism at times, it is constantly tweaked and changed by the personalities and talents that flow through it, but it will always be there to provide a connection to the greater natural environment for the SLU community.