Winning in Winter | St. Lawrence University

Winning in Winter

Sean Reville

Needless to say, St. Lawrence is a big skiing school (we have an entire day where we rent out a ski mountain for goodness’ sake!). However, just because you don’t ski doesn’t mean there isn't plenty for you to do during the long North Country winter! Though there is an almost endless list of things you can do around here in during the winter season, I am going to share with you one of my favorite things I have ever done while others were out skiing.

I think my first year at SLU was the coldest. Maybe it was just because I had not grown accustomed to the mind-numbing chill of the St. Lawrence River Valley yet. Either way, three friends and I decided that we wanted to build an igloo. We didn't look up instructions and none of us had seen a real igloo before, let alone build one. Instead, we hiked out on to the golf course clad in several layers of wool sweaters and snow pants, and began building. We bought some plastic containers, packed them full of snow and doused them in water from a nearby stream to form ice bricks. It was so cold most days that the ice bricks would freeze in a matter of minutes, allowing us to the build walls really quickly. For several weeks we would spend a few hours every other day making ice bricks and stacking them on top of each other in a circle.

It was hard work and some days we would consider abandoning the project, but we persevered. When we finally finished, we had an igloo so big we could fit eight people in it, you could stand up in it and it was strong enough that you walk across the top. All the hard work paid off when we slept out in the igloo the day we finished. It was an amazing feeling to sleep under something you put so much time and effort into. The igloo kept us warm that night from the harsh cold outside as curious woodland creatures would occasionally stick their head into the igloo throughout the night.

There are the usual lessons to be gleaned from this story, time-tested themes about working together and perseverance, but I think this story points to something else. We had an idea of something we wanted to do, and though we had no training or experience in building an igloo, that did not stop us from doing so. Having the confidence to try new things is not something that comes naturally to me, much less the confidence that I can succeed at something new. However, St. Lawrence has taught me that I am smart and valuable, and that no matter what situation I am in, I can succeed at it if I try hard enough.