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Posts Tagged ‘Discovery’

Outdoor leadership students get new perspective on learning

January 24, 2011 Comments off

The outdoor leadership majors and professors grew close through Discovery last semester. Photo by Jenny Cavin.

By Callie Stevens, Staff Writer

Adrenaline is rushing through every cell in your body. Nerves are on the edge of a cliff. Butterflies are soaring in your stomach, which feels like is in your chest. Your life in your hands with the knowledge of one mistake could cost you that life.

Imagine a whole semester filled with this exhilaration. Spending four months on a constant adrenaline rush. Then, imagine after a month being made to sit quietly for hours in a desk listening to a lecture.

The Discovery students have moved back into normal schedules with normal classes. As for me, it has been a strange transition. I have made the joke several times that I somehow acquired ADD over the break. Last semester we were constantly active, and we practically stayed on an adrenaline high. In the new semester, we are forced back into traditional classes. I sit in class having to make myself focus, because all I keep thinking about is me wanting to be outside doing something active.

Strangely, though I am antsy to get out of class, I am also really enjoying learning. It is surprisingly refreshing to have to think hard about different topics and broaden my perspectives. Last semester we learned a lot, but it was information that you do not realize how much you learned until you have to put it into practice. For example, we learned the different strokes of paddling a canoe. I didn’t realize how much I really learned about them until we got on the river and the strokes just seemed natural from learning them properly. With learning that takes place in traditional classes, you are able to reflect right after class and see what you learned.

Though the Discovery semester is over, I am still discovering new qualities about myself. I have realized that I love and miss the field work of living in the woods. I have also discovered, as nerdy as it sounds, that I enjoy learning. I do not know what the semester holds for me, but I do know that I am going kayaking this weekend, and I am going to study this weekend. As for me, it sounds like the perfect weekend for an outdoor leadership major coming out of the Discovery Semester.

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A walk in the woods

November 16, 2010 Comments off

By Callie Stevens, Staff Writer

Photo by Skye Butler

This past week, the Discovery students started the land pursuits section of the semester with a three-day backpacking trip. We went to the Cohutta Wilderness in Blue Ridge. The trail was 13 miles and followed the Jakes River, a famous fly fishing river. The trail itself is rather easy for the level of experience the group has. So, our minds were left to float with only the care of the river crossings and the beauty around us.

The trail was flat for the majority of the hike and crossed the river 18 times. This was my first experience river crossing with packs on. The average pack weighs 25 to 40 pounds, so crossing a knee-deep river is quiet different with all the extra weight. The crossings certainly increased the risk in the hike, because if we fell, our packs and the gear inside would get wet -especially bad on a cold night. So, the river crossings increased our awareness of what we were doing.

At the beginning of the river crossing I picked up a walking stick to use for extra balance. There were many times when the force of the water almost pushed me backwards.

I would make sure one foot was set on the bottom of the river. Then, I would carefully slide my other foot over to set it, but I found my foot on a large rock that was slippery. I would slide my foot around trying to find the edge of the rock before my one foot slipped, which would result into me falling into cold water. Then, I would find the edge of the rock with my foot and get it settled so I wouldn’t fall. Almost every river crossing was like this where we snaked our way across the river taking each step with care.

Once we got past all the river crossings, which ended up being on our last day of the trip, we were able to be amazed at nature’s natural beauty during the fall. As the trail climbed away from the river and to the ridge where we had parked, we were able to see the trees in all of their glory of the leaves changing to the fall’s natural colors. As we looked about we were captured by auburn colors that would take anyone’s breath away.

The trail was a steady climb at this point, which allowed me to let my mind wonder instead of focusing on the trial. I thought about how peaceful the moment was. I was surrounded by some of my best friends in the middle of the woods with only the sound of our feet on the ground and the natural wood sounds of birds chirping, squirrels running on the leaves and the wind whistling through the trees. I closed my eyes and listened to the peaceful noises and wondered why people would want to live in the middle of cities. The woods provide a peaceful safe haven for the mind, body and soul.

I watched the mountains roll around us and thought back on the trip and the semester. With only two weeks left in the semester for the Discovery students, we continue to be immersed in the woods, which provided us with the peace needed to allow us to grow as students, educators and individuals as a whole.

 

Stevens overcomes outdoor obstacles

October 26, 2010 Comments off

Photo by Skye Butler


By Callie Stevens, Staff Writer

Thirty feet of the ground with only two ropes holding me from my death, I take a step off the platform and onto the wire. Heart beating fast, legs shaking, and palms sweaty, I take another step with the encouragement of my peers. Fear is running through my body like blood, but I keep going trusting my friends, the equipment I’m using, and my own judgment.

The Discovery students took on challenge courses this past week. Challenge courses incorporate different obstacles that individuals try to maneuver through either by themselves or with a group to build on issues of trust, communication and leadership. In challenge courses, good facilitators use the participants’ experiences to make a bigger impact on the participants’ lives.

This is very hard to do sometimes. Because every group is different, therefore, every experience is different. It is hard to show someone who is scared of heights that they made it through a high ropes course, so they can deal with other fears in their lives. This is where being a good facilitator includes being a good educator and handling group dynamics.

Last Thursday, the outdoor education program changed its name to outdoor leadership. The school administration decided there was some confusion on the program since it is not part of the school’s educational program. The administration decided the best action would be take “education” out of the title and change it to outdoor leadership. Although many other schools have educational programs that are not under educational departments, including the University of Georgia who has both an Art Education and a Music Education, neither of which are under their educational department.

My own opinion is that I very much dislike the change. I love the major and the program because it develops us as educators. In this Discovery semester we are learning a lot of hard skills of how to handle the technical side of the activities, but we also learn the educator part of how to take the technical experience and make it a learning experience.

This name change undermines who we are as students in the program to simply call us leaders instead of educators. When we are teaching someone about big issues in life such as trust and communication, we are more than leaders, we are educators.

Besides the change itself, I disagree with the way the change was brought about. No one in administration asked the students on their opinion. It was a total surprise to the program’s students. I also think instead of settling confusion, the change will create more confusion.

Everyone on campus and involved in the program is use to the program being outdoor education. With the change, many people are confused if the program is the same or if it has changed. Though there are other degrees similar to ours such as Brevard’s Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education, the point that made the program special at YHC, was that it was one of two outdoor education programs in the state. Simply changing the name makes the degree less special in the big picture.

From my understanding the program itself is not changing at all. As we continue through our Discovery semester we will continue to learn the hard skills involved in outdoor pursuits, and we will continue to learn how to be great future educators in our field. Politics are politics and nothing will ever change that, but as far as I am concerned I am an outdoor education major at Young Harris College, not an outdoor leadership major.

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