Presbyterian College students camp in canyon to build community

Presbyterian+College+students+camp+in+canyon+to+build+community

Matt Andrews and Bailey Woolley

Daniel Adams, Dr. Bob Bryant, and Dr. Rachel Pigg of Presbyterian College spent their Spring Break camping in the Boquillas Canyon with eight students.  The participants flew individually out to Midland, Texas on Sunday, February 26.  Once everyone arrived, they drove to Big Bend National Park near Terlingua, Texas, where the outdoor adventure began.

The trip consisted of the adventurers canoeing on the Rio Grande River, a natural border between the United States and Mexico.  They paddled seven to ten miles a day, taking breaks for lunch and short day hikes.  At night, they scoured the shoreline of the river, looking for a place to set up camp.  Whenever a suitable rocky or sandy bank was found, they unloaded the gear for the night.  The tired journeyers then cooked dinner and participated in a nightly personal reflection led by Dr. Bryant, one of the faculty who attended the trip.  They repeated this process for the next four nights until the trip’s completion on Friday, March 3.

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The personal reflections each night were conducted due to the trip being awarded a grant that helped subsidize the costs for the students participating; the only caveat of the grant was hosting a spiritual and environmental reflection each day.  These reflections helped facilitate students feeling connected to the bigger universe. Adams, the leader and organizer of the trip, stated one could “clearly see the Milky Way Galaxy because there is no light pollution.”  They were 50 miles from the nearest urban civilization.  This gave the students a sense of the scope and scale of the infinite night sky, putting into perspective how miniscule the events are that worry and fluster people on a day to day basis.

On the Wednesday of the trip, the group decided to rest and take a day off from the strenuous paddling.  Adams knew of a challenging and entertaining hike for the group to trek because he completed this same trip a few years earlier.  However, when the adventurers arrived at the trailhead, the path was washed out.  This did not hinder some of the participants however; four young men decided to blaze their own path up the steep canyon wall.

These young men scrambled up the steep vertical incline, avoiding cacti, rattlesnakes, and other dangers found in the desert along the United States and Mexican border.  Once summiting the canyon walls, a sense of accomplishment overwhelmed the climbers; they completed a 1500-2000-foot vertical climb from the base of the canyon to the top.  Daniel Lott, one of the students who summited the canyon, stated this was his most memorable moment from the trip.

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The ultimate goal Adams had for the trip was to promote a sense of community that enhanced the Presbyterian College experience.  He stated the trip was “instrumental in forming a community across social groups.  This is important because a non-connected student is often less successful than those who are connected.”  Boundaries were broken down uniting fraternity and sorority members, student athletes, and regular students.  A special bond is formed that can last a lifetime when one shares in a struggle.

The Rio Grande River trip was the third Outdoor Orientation trip offered by Adams, Dr. Bryant, and Dr. Pigg. Similar trips are planned for the future.  A possible outdoor education minor or environmental science academic credit may be created for trips like these.  Students would learn “leave no trace” camping techniques that preserve the environment, as well as wilderness survival skills in an outdoor education curriculum.  They would also learn about what gear is necessary and needed for backpacking and canoe camping trips.  With the emphasis on protecting the environment, the trips could easily translate over to the environmental science minor and count as course credit hours.

Adams is looking for new leadership and members for PC Outdoors.  This club is not limited to the large trips, but also offers day and half-day excursions around the Upstate area.  If interested, one can contact Daniel Adams via email at [email protected]