Climbing Creates New Friendships

Grace Dunn, Staff Writer

Imagine being high in the trees, wearing a harness that’s connected to a cable, climbing through a ropes course. Your friend who uses a walker on the ground is ten paces ahead of you on your current challenge known as an element.

Many in the sophomore class experienced this unusual phenomenon first hand in the culminating event for this year’s Biography Project.

The Biography Project was started by Ms. Giraud for tenth grade Out-of-Door students back in 2008. The spirit of the Biography Project has always revolved around challenge.

“The purpose is to spend some time with someone you wouldn’t normally engage with–to engage with people in a meaningful way,” Giraud explains.

The partnership with Easter Seals’ high school program was a perfect fit. Easter Seals is an organization that works to provide disabled people with social experiences and skills training.

The project concludes each year in different ways. This year, Treeumph was chosen as a culminating experience because it represents challenge in a unique way. Students at ODA and Easter Seals responded in a variety of ways.

Some Out-of-Door students found it difficult to bond with their buddy in an environment like Treeumph. Some felt that the physical challenge for Easter Seals was too much and that having a group more able to participate together may have been a more powerful and inclusive experience. But many said they still enjoyed the time with their ODA friends.

Others had a completely different take on the trip. These students and their buddies embraced the challenge, even if that meant they would only make it through two out of the five courses.

“At first I thought it was going to be a mess, but it turned out really well, and Treeumph was a good choice. I also think there was a lot of team building,” says sophomore Zach Aberle.

“I loved spending time with my Easter Seals buddy. Being at Treeumph, it was great to see her helping us, not the other way around,” said sophomore Chloe Spingler.

To finish this year’s project, Out-of-Door students will write a letter to their buddy. They will also meet as a large group one last time for a final reflection about the project. As a gift to participating organizations, ODA students will create a photo book that will be given to Treeumph and Easter Seals to commemorate the year.

So, next time you are placed in an uncomfortable environment, remember that everyone has fears and anxieties.