By Nora Kirkham ’16
Just six hours away from the stacks of textbooks and coffee-stained paper of semester midterms are the Adirondack Mountains, sloping in the mist of a crisp New York October. This quad break weekend, thirteen Gordon College students and two staff members returned to La Vida’s base camp at Lake Clear to engage in a variety of service projects with the rangers of the Adirondack State Park.
For the past three years, the La Vida Center for Outdoor Education and Leadership has drawn together campus volunteers for a weekend of service at the program’s New York base working alongside the park rangers in the Adirondacks.
The Adirondacks themselves are known and beloved by many students on campus who have taken on La Vida’s college summer expeditions, worked as wilderness trip leaders—called “sherpas”—or served with the program’s support staff. Seven students were participants from Gordon’s WILD semester. The annual service trip offered this group of La Vida supporters a chance to give back to a program and a landscape that had impacted them significantly. In volunteering, the students all had a common purpose and interest: practicing environmental stewardship and experiencing fellowship rooted in a place.
The weekend projects ranged from building and clearing trails on Hurricane Mountain to digging privy holes at campsites on Pollywog Pond. Volunteers both hiked and canoed to their work sites, and the last day of the trip was spent hiking the breathtaking Phelps Mountain in the High Peaks Region.
I was one of thirteen volunteers on the service trip and can honestly say I couldn’t have spent quad break weekend in a better way. In one short trip, I was able to experience the simple pleasures of community and vastness of God’s creation. After weeks of running through the cycle of coursework and commitments, this Adirondacks service trip was a definite breath of fresh air. While at times it was hard work, the projects our groups took on introduced us to new skills, and we finished each day with the satisfaction of making even the smallest differences, on the trail and in the growth of friendships.
Photos: (1) Some of the volunteers enjoy a sunny afternoon in a field, (2) taking a lunch break on the peak of Phelps Mountain, (3) preparing to work on the Hurricane Mountain Trail.
Nora Kirkham ’16 is a sophomore history major at Gordon College and a writer in the Office of College Communications. Raised in four continents, she is a 'Third Culture Kid'. Her interests include history, art, literature and sustainable development.