Training the New Winter Leaders
Though the winter weather in Upstate New York this year has been nothing but sporadic and unpredictable, it has not stopped the Hamilton Outing Club from getting into the woods and playing in the snow. However, since winter conditions in the Upstate region are usually much colder and snowier than fall or spring conditions, student Outing Club leaders who have been trained to handle mild fall weather must be trained with a different skill to handle most extreme winter conditions.
This winter, the Outing Club began a new initiative to teach student leaders how to safely guide winter daytrips. Typically, in order to lead any sort of trip during the colder months, students must complete a weeklong winter camping leader seminar during the end of winter break. While the traditional seminar prepares students for single or multi-day trips, this process is time intensive and a huge commitment for most participants. The new leader training initiative lasts only a single day instead of a week and specifically teaches students how to guide day trips during the winter.
Outing Club trip leaders Anna Mowat ’18, Elise LePage ’18 and Anne Emanuels ’16 conducted these winter daytrip training excursions during the past month at the Tug Hill Plateau in western New York. While snow was generally sparse throughout the Upstate region, they found a base of about two feet of snow at Tug Hill that allowed them to teach snowshoeing, tent setup and stove skills. Between the two programs, nine students became certified to lead day trips during the winter. Madeline Carlman ’19, Emily Alexander ’19, Eleanor Silva ’19, and Abigail Kaplan ’19 attended the first seminar, and Claudia Morse ’19, Hayley Goodrich ’17, Jared Mandelbaum ’18, Laura Kwasnoski ’18, and Mykhailo Antoniv ’17 attended the second session.
Mowat believes these training trips have been “very successful” in creating a base of student leaders who can guide during the winter. She believes these trips will continue to make the Outing Club more accessible to students year-round, especially since winter conditions prevail during the school year. Both the week and daylong winter training seminars will be offered in the coming years to continue to expand the base of student leaders and participants in the Outing Club.