March 12, 2014

The Great Outdoors

by Lauren Chan '16 and Jeremy Wortzel '16

Lauren Chan '16 and Jeremy Wortzel '16 volunteer with OLEEP (Outdoor Leadership Environmental Education Program), a mentoring program that builds Met high school students' understanding of science and the environment through weekly workshops and camping trips. They reflect on a recent camping trip and their work to foster individual awareness and leadership skills as Brown and Met students learn from each other, themselves, and the environment.

What better way to start the month than to go winter camping? OLEEP took to the woods March 1st and 2nd for an amazing winter camping experience at Bushy Hill Nature Center in Deep River, CT. Nine mentors, nine mentees, and the great outdoors - can’t get better than that!

We started our amazing trip off with a tour of Bushy Hill! This included a cool look into the nature center where we had the opportunity to check out some really neat taxidermied animals as well as skeletons and furs. We then saw their reptile room and met some really funky little critters including a bearded dragon, water dragon, and a ball python! After the little critters got tuckered out (the lizards not the mentees) we trecked over to the Sugar Shack. This was their facility for making maple syrup from scratch! After a quick trek through the woods we spent some time admiring some hand-built wigwams and TeePees. These were amazing to see in the dead of winter and to think what it would be like to live in those times. Finally, before dinner, we went SLEDDING! We had such a blast that we almost didn’t want to go back for dinner!

Night fell, dinner had been eaten, and it was finally time to return to our cabin to enjoy our final activity of the night. It is easy to get lost in the craziness that is life, so mentors and mentees were all given time to reflect about wherever their mind took them, whether it was about themselves or the trip. As an extension to their reflection, sheets of paper were handed out on which everyone wrote a response to each of the following prompts: something you want to hold on to, something you want to let go of, and a personal challenge. Then, everyone went up to release their responses into the fire. After this moment of zen, we ended our night in appreciation. A hat was passed around with everyone’s name in it twice. Everyone randomly picked two names and wrote a superlative for the people they chose. Thus began our anonymous compliment circle.

After a great night’s sleep and some waffles, we held the next part of our workshop. This was focussed on understanding the different types of leaders and how different leadership tactics change under certain circumstances. We started off by discussing the leadership compass and outlining the four cardinal directions and the different styles of leadership they represent. We then used some examples from history such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. We then set up different fun scenarios to help the mentees understand what types of leaders they are.

OLEEP had an absolutely fantastic time. Mentors and mentees shared in unforgettable memories. For a couple of days, we were all able to find reprieve from our daily lives and in that time discover the beauty of friendship and the outdoors.

 

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