On the 15th of November the OLP students and staff returned from our second major expedition of the semester. Operating in two groups of 10 students and 2 staff both groups successfully completed the late fall backpacking expedition to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The OLP students traveled many miles, first by trail and then later by bushwhacking through dense and challenging forested terrain navigating by compass. Students did a great job learning to take bearings from the map and follow them in the real world to get from point A to B. They also learned to read the landscape and navigate by terrain association while reading the map. Once high elevation look outs were attained, the students mastered the technique of triangulation to locate their position on the map.
After navigating to the top of the dreaded Devil’s Hopyard, the groups worked carefully and efficiently to descend the pre-historic like ravine. Clogged with downed trees, thick mats of lush moss, and floating bog material made the going tough. Several steep cliffs barred the way and packs had to be carefully passed or ziplined down a rope to allow for students to climb down while being spotted by peers. The hopyard is also characterized by endless large boulders and small rock jumbles that hide deep, leg snapping holes. After a medical emergency simulation involving a broken leg and the extrication of a very large instructor, the students made their way carefully to the trail in the bottom of the narrow, vertical walled ravine.
Working in co-leadership teams, students had the opportunity to practice leading the group, managing team dynamics, and capitalizing on teachable moments. At each day’s end, leadership partners self-evaluated and were given peer and instructor feedback for future improvement. It was gratifying to see how each team’s effort led to greater success for the entire group. Group management, risk management, presentation skills, and leadership styles were examined in the field.
The OLP staff continue to be impressed with the focus and hard work of the students. While it is hard to believe that the year is almost half over, it is exciting to think that the best of OLP is still to come. Keep in touch!