I’ve never been one for appreciating the wonders of the outdoors…not really, anyway.
I enjoy a leisurely walk through campus on a crisp fall day, a swim in a lake, or a picnic in Federal Hill Park. But I’m still not willing to give up my bed, shower, and the comforts of home. Part of me is really jealous of my cousin who galavanted all across America this summer, camping, hiking, and climbing. I wish I had that sense of comfort in the natural environment, that confidence in myself to explore without concerns about bugs, dirt, or mud.
I’ve definitely grown some in this sense since coming to Loyola, though. I’ve put myself out of my comfort zone in many ways, and next on my list is becoming more comfortable with the outdoor environment. I can recognize its beauty, read Thoreau, and commit to “living deliberately,” but actually doing it? That’s another story.
This weekend I took the first step. I went on my first OAE (Outdoor Adventure Experience)
trip on Sunday: sophomore sea kayaking! OAE offers both weekend and day trips, and I decided that a day trip would be a good option to get my feet wet.
The group of six sophomores met our three leaders (one sophomore and two seniors) at the FAC at 8:30 AM on Sunday morning and began the hour-long trip to Perryville Community Park in Perryville, MD at 9. Once there we unloaded the boats, geared up, and learned the different paddle strokes and signals that we would use on the water.
When one of the leaders launched my kayak into the water I felt completely at peace with the world. Sure, I had a paper for my Interest Groups class sitting at home waiting to be finished and two other commitments once I returned to campus later than day, but for a few hours, none of that mattered.
It was no hotter than 70 degrees with the ideal amount of breeze. I wasn’t cold, but I wasn’t sweating. We kayaked in the relatively still-water for about an hour, enjoying sitings of
wildlife and exploring the area. We stopped on the shore for a brief lunch break: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and apples. It was simple, but it couldn’t have been more perfect.
Walking back to the kayaks after our lunch break, my roommate Jen, who was on her second OAE trip (she went caving last year), said to me: “Sometimes I don’t think we really realize how lucky we are, with all the opportunities we’re given here. I wish more people would take advantage of trips like this.”
I can say for sure that I’m glad I took advantage of that trip. For $15, I enjoyed a day of challenge but also relaxation, and as we paddled, I had some time to talk with my fellow sophomores about all of the decisions we’re in the middle of making right now. I think that the next thing I will tackle, if I’m feeling up to it, is a weekend-long trip.
But for now, I know that I can try something new (varieties of which, at Loyola, are endless) and be more confident in myself and my abilities afterwards. No experience necessary, just a willingness and a tad bit of courage.