The Colgate Scene
July 2005

Adventures in Colgate's back yard

Lauren McCauley '05, right, and Kate Rufe '05 lead the way through fresh snow during a cross-country ski overnight trip. [Photo by Jimmy Maritz '05]

It is a beautiful day in Hamilton: the bright autumn leaves are scattered along the grass while a clear blue sky looms overhead. Or perhaps it is 30 degrees, there is a pristine blanket of snow on the ground, and a promise of more to come. Or maybe it is a brisk but bright April day. What is there to do?

How about a Backyard Adventures outing? The BYA program was started two years ago by the outdoor education department. Abby Rowe, assistant director, and Josh Baker, co-director, head the BYA program; trained student staff members lead all adventures. Baker enjoys the fact that the BYA program benefits everyone involved, including members of his own department.

"The BYA outings serve as outreach for the university to the Hamilton community," he said. "The outdoor education staff also benefits from teaching more, and the Colgate faculty really enjoy it."

Everyone is invited to participate. Participation can range from five to 40 people and usually depends on the activity, time it takes place, and the season. There are four sections of BYA outings -- two in the fall semester and two in the spring semester.

For Jessica Winans '06, one of the most exciting aspects is that everybody is learning at once: "Often I have had the opportunity to learn from the students, professors, and community members in my BYAs rather than them only learning from me and my co-leader," she said.

During one of her outings a Colgate staff member contributed to her explanation about Queen Anne's Lace and then continued to teach the rest of the group about other plants that Winans was unfamiliar with. "I guess BYAs serve as a perfect example of our outdoor education motto, `Learn to teach, teach to learn,'" said Winans.

Barbara Roback, associate director of career services, actively participates in the program. She views it as outreach to students and a way to interact with them on different levels.

"Sharing an outdoor activity is a great way to build relationships, which helps me both keep the pulse and feel part of the campus community. I also find that students will often check out our office afterward since they know someone who is part of it," she said.

Roback's favorite activity is the moonlight canoe trip on Lake Moraine, which Rowe says is also a campus favorite. On one trip, she said, "It was very cold out on the lake, but there was so much energy generated with the paddling, chatting, and (in the) expression of pleasure in sharing such a great moment together that even though I could hardly feel my fingers and toes, I didn't want to get back to shore."

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