St. Lawrence’s outdoor programming has expanded
in a multitude of directions in recent years.
By John B. Linsley ’04
281 At the Adirondack Semester’s yurt village on Massawepie
Lake, program participants try to work out a problem (it could
be intellectual or it could be communal) while Director and Associate
Professor of Philosophy Baylor Johnson, left, looks on.
Over the past two decades, the number of outdoor activities available
to St. Lawrence students has grown tremendously. The
recent surge has been accompanied by the creation of St. Lawrence’s
multidimensional Outdoor Studies Program, with its three prongs: the
Adirondack Semester; the outdoor studies academic minor;
and the Outdoor Program. The program has joined with
the long-established Outing Club to provide an outstanding selection
of both academic and recreational outdoor activities for students.
The Outing Club
Founded in 1937 by the late Anders Lunde ’38 and Joseph Norton ’40,
the Outing Club--the second oldest college outing club in the
nation, behind only Dartmouth’s--has always had student leadership. The Outdoor
Alternatives cottage (or “The Outhouse”) is the club’s
headquarters. Outing Club trips are recreational; any St. Lawrence
student may participate.
The Outdoor Program
Aside from Outing Club responsibilities, many residents of the
Outhouse hold paid guiding positions with St. Lawrence’s curriculum-based
Outdoor Program, which offers instructional, skills-based training
for students in such areas as outdoor leadership, wilderness medicine,
rock climbing, backcountry skiing, and whitewater kayaking and canoeing.
Outdoor Program paddling curriculum offers introductory courses, intermediate
and advanced whitewater outings on nearby rivers, and an annual whitewater
expedition in the high country south of James Bay, at the southern
tip of Hudson Bay.
The Outdoor Program’s
climbing curriculum has also grown in recent years. The
opening of the Munro Family Climbing Wall in the fall of 2001 marked
a major breakthrough for the climbing community at St. Lawrence. Sarah
Councell, associate director of the Outdoor Program, and her team of
student climbing guides teach a variety of climbing clinics and run
larger events, such as the annual Halloween Climbing Competition.
The Adirondack Semester and Outdoor Studies Minor
Since a trial run in the fall of 2000, the Adirondack Semester has
seen steady student interest. Adirondack Semester students
spend the fall semester living in yurts on the shores of Lake Massawepie,
near Tupper Lake on land leased from the Boys Scouts of America about
an hour from campus. They take a full course load, with classes
taught by St. Lawrence professors who commute to the site.
Completing daily tasks at Massawepie requires group effort; students
must be productive members of the community while lacking modern resources. They
have access to limited amenities such as propane and solar-produced
electricity, but none to vehicles or TV; many elect not to bring computers.
Participants are required to sign and abide by a “no alcohol” pledge.
Day-to-day life is simple, with assignments often completed under candlelight.
|Onward and Upward
The Evolution of the Outdoor Experience at St. Lawrence
1880s Students enjoy boating on the Little River; faculty insist on chaperones;
1937 Outing Club founded by students; second collegiate outing club in
1976 Orientation “pre-trips,” involving backpacking, cycling
or canoe-camping in the Adirondacks, begin.
1982 Outdoor Alternatives theme cottage (“The Outhouse”) established.
1983 Peak Weekend inaugurated; goal is to place Laurentians on tops of
46 highest Adirondack summits simultaneously.
1990 Outdoor Program, co-curricular skills and leadership development initiative,
1994 Outdoor studies minor introduced to provide students with a multidisciplinary
academic approach to the study of nature.
2000 Adirondack Semester commences; off-campus program modeled on international
programs on Massawepie Lake in the Adirondack Park
2001 Munro Family Climbing Wall opens in Newell Field House; attracts enthusiasts
from throughout the Northeast.