Bucknell Outdoor Education offers a leadership program and winter break trips

Connor Bennett, Contributing Writer

The Bucknell Outdoor Education Leadership Program provides students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in various outdoor escapades. 

With access to explore 117 Pennsylvania state parks, 2.1 million acres of forest and thousands of hiking and biking trails that surround the Lewisburg area, the OEL opportunities are endless. 

Trips are run by student leaders who undergo extensive training to ensure the trips are safe and enjoyable. Weekly throughout the year different outdoor adventures are planned.  No experience is required for any of the programs, making them accessible to any interested Bucknell student.

One of the many Adventure Trips Student Managers Nick Sperduto ’24 spoke on his many different experiences with OEL. 

“Outdoor Education and Leadership (OEL) is a really special community here at Bucknell,” Sperduto said. “It is rare for a school our size to have such extensive opportunities and resources to experience the outdoors.”

Sperduto highlighted the “hardwork and dedication” that directors Nate Smith and Sarah Morris have put into the program since 2019. He said that both President John Bravman and Dean Kari Conrad have also been supportive of the OEL mission. 

Sperduto has two years of experience as a trip leader and has now been a manager for a year. 

“From the experienced rock climber to the first time paddler, OEL is a welcoming community for all, providing a nice change of pace to life on campus and really bringing together a lot of different social circles at Bucknell,” he said. 

Speaking on the different trips themselves Sperduto said, “I think my most memorable experience was leading a pre-orientation camping & paddling trip at Raystown Lake. I’m super excited for everything to come: we’re offering an ice climbing trip to Colorado and a skiing trip to Vermont over winter break.”

The OEL program is offering different trips for students to sign up for and have a number in the upcoming weeks for students to keep an eye on.

Camping at World’s End 

Students will have the opportunity to “camp and stare at the stars” at World’s End State Park on Oct. 29. The park contains over 780 acres and is surrounded by the Loyalsock State Forest. All transportation, food, and gear will be provided and participation in the event is completely free for all Bucknell students. 

Climb Nittany  – Indoor Rock Climbing Gym 

The indoor rock climbing trip will be taking place Oct. 29 at Penn State. The state of the art rock climbing facility allows for beginners and experienced climbers to hone their skills. The rock climb offers a variety of climbs such as bouldering, top rope climbing, lead climbing, autobelayed climbing, and a training area. This trip is not outdoors but still provides Bucknell students with a weekend activity and an opportunity to get off campus. 

Mountain Biking

30 miles from Bucknell’s campus is Bald Eagle State park, which has an extensive network of trails for mountain bikers. This event will occur on Sunday Oct. 30 and does require mountain biking experience. The trip will start at 9 a.m. and conclude around 2 p.m. with transportation provided by Bucknell. 

Spooky Canoe 

One of the most popular OEL events of the year is the Spooky Canoe kayaking trip. The trip departs from Bucknell’s own private river landing in the Susquehanna River at 5pm on October 30. Students will embark on a canoe trip through the River in a Halloween costume of their choice. 

The unique experience of kayaking while wearing a Halloween costume allows for students to both experience the outdoors in a fun and unique way. No prior kayaking experience is necessary and the trip offers a way for students to wrap up their Halloween weekend. 

Outdoor Education Leadership does not end when classes do at Bucknell. Over winter break two unique trips are available for all Bucknell students to apply for. They provide a way for students to stay active during winter break as well as engage with peers who have similar interests such as skiing, snowboarding and ice climbing. 

Ouray Ice Climbing

This week-long trip to Colorado contains ice climbing, natural spring swimming and exploring Southwest Colorado. The trip dates are Jan. 7–14, with the group meeting on Bucknell’s campus prior to departure. The trip provides training on ice climbing along with any gear necessary. 

Ouray Ice Park is a manmade climbing park located only minutes from the town of Ouray with over 100 different ice and mixed climbing trails. The park has trials for all students and no prior ice climbing experience is needed. After four days of ice climbing, students will get to explore the hot springs of Colorado before heading back to Bucknell to start the spring semester. 

Ski the Northeast Winter Break

Five days of skiing and snowboarding at some of the biggest mountains in the Northeast are provided through this trip. Both Jay Peak and Smugglers Notch are home to hundreds of acres of ski trails and over 2,000 feet of vertical drop on both mountains. 

Smuggler’s Notch is even home to the only Triple Black Diamond in the Northeast. This trip runs through Jan. 8–15 and is an opportunity for Bucknell students to have fun in the snow before school starts.

For registration information regarding any of the Bucknell Outdoor Education Leadership programs students can visit https://www.bucknelloel.info/.

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