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Rockstar Community Leaders Champion Outdoor Adventures

Posted by JeanMB at Dec 20, 2018 05:50 PM |

Meet three determined outdoor leaders who led memorable trips for their schools and programs this year.

In 2018 our Outdoor Leadership Training program’s Gear Library provided clothing and equipment to support more than 100 outdoor adventures for youth and family groups. And the graduates of our Outdoor Leadership Training program who lead these trips — they are rockstars!

Highline High School at Mount Rainier. Photo by Sara Ullmer.
Highline High School at Mount Rainier. Photo by Sara Ullmer.

These community leaders and educators from throughout Washington put in the extra time and effort on top of their everyday programming to create memorable experiences and introduce young people and families to the outdoors.

Here are a few of those champions who took on all the tasks associated with leading incredible outings this year with incredible results.

Highest Number of Participants (And Biggest Secret Adventure ever?)

Kevin Anson & St. Joseph/Marquette School

Gear Library Snowshoes by Emma Cassidy
The WTA Gear Library now has 70 pairs of snowshoes in stock to lend out. by Emma Cassidy.

Kevin Anson might still be soaking in his February snowshoeing trip with his students from St. Joseph/Marquette School in Yakima.

Kevin faced logistical challenges from trying to get snowshoes from our gear library to Yakima to having to scout a last minute trail in order to find snow. Plus, with lots of secret communications with parents and chaperones, he managed to keep the snowshoeing adventure a surprise for his 40 fifth graders!

Kevin wanted the students to have such a blast performing the Stations of the Cross on snowshoes that they would truly remember them. So when the students returned from the cold snowy trail (where it was 18 degrees), he asked them if they would have preferred to stay back in the classroom.

“They about took my head off with their resounding "NO!," he reported.

With his planning and perseverance, Kevin managed to lead the biggest group that borrowed gear this year — 40 youth and 18 adults who appreciated his efforts so much that they can’t wait for “snowshoeing 2.0” this winter!

Longest Backpacking Trip

Dawn Erickson & Darrington Outdoor Club

Erickson Darrington Outdoor Club.jpg
Darrington Outdoor Club heads north on the PCT from Grizzly Peak on their way to Pear Lake to camp for the night. Photo by Gary Paull.

This summer 10 participants from the Darrington Outdoor Club, led bravely by Dawn Erickson, headed to the Pacific Crest Trail for their longest backpacking trip to date. OLT-trained leader Dawn is a serious rockstar.

While Dawn may have been anxious, she took on all the challenges to provide the middle-schoolers with an exciting new adventure. They tackled group hiking dynamics and motivation, heat, bugs, elevation gain, long days and sore feet. But discovering the joy of backpacking is always worth it.

Participants rose to the challenge of what was for many their first backpacking trip. For 6 days they carried themselves from PCT Steven Pass to North Fork Sauk trailhead. They took on more leadership roles — helping in daily decision making and wayfinding.

As they came into camp on the last day one youth proclaimed “This is amazing!”

The group gave the trip a resounded 8 of 10 stars as they reveled in the accomplishments of their adventure. Dawn hopes that means they are all ready to go backpacking again this year!

Biggest Dinner Outside

Allan Kafley & Environmental Coalition of South Seattle

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Seattle Bhutanese community members cook dinner for 40 on their camping trip. Photo by Allan Kafley.

Forty participants from Seattle’s Bhutanese community joined leader Allan Kafley and his co-leaders from Environmental Coalition of South Seattle (ECOSS) to Deception Pass this fall on a camping trip.

Allan was pretty concerned that the weather would dampen their big plans, but with reassurance they all headed out for a weekend of adventure in the woods. As many participants learned about all the accommodations of camping in the United States, they already knew how to connect with each other in the outdoors — through dancing and great food. The Bhutanese know that communal dinner and making their dishes from scratch is the best part of big camping trips.

This rock star group made the biggest trail meal with the yummiest looking spread. Their jovial spirit and excitement throughout the trip was amazing!