My family went camping once, which meant that my uncle bought a multi-room tent and we ate at nice restaurants while touring quaint towns. Yes, we slept in the tents, but we had to have our tent neighbors put them up for us. After the weekend came to a close, my uncle returned the tent to Kmart. Since then, my mother remarks that her idea of camping is throwing some dirt on the floor of a cheap motel. Needless to say, we have not “camped” since our first experience, although my parents claim to love the outdoors.
Colgate was the only rural school I applied to and in the end when I was comparing it to several very similar liberal arts schools the isolated setting was the reason I chose to attend. Chances are, I’ll never live in a small, isolated town so what better time to experience such a lifestyle than in college. Despite my fondness of Colgate’s surroundings, I was surprised to hear my mother suggest that I should go on a wilderness adventure trip before school started. I am not outdoorsy. “I am an artist,” I told her. “Duh. We don’t go outdoors unless it’s to paint a tree and even then we stay in one place.” I didn’t understand where this was coming from. What was Dirt on Motel Floor Lady (DoMFL) thinking?
Needless to say, I went. DoMFL says you go, you do. Its one of the best things I’ve ever done. I arrived in the ‘Dacks and I was so miserable in the first two days that I was ready to drop out of college completely, but by the time I left I somehow had a good time. I learned that being dirty wasn’t so bad. By the end of the trip, I was convinced that there is an art to spray-spitting and that Dr. Broner’s soap may be a panacea for all of the Earth’s evils. It doesn’t say so on the back, but I’m pretty sure that if applied correctly, it could bring Peace to the Middle East (perhaps pouring it into the Suez Canal?). The friends I made on my wilderness trip are still some of my closest. And while I still did not feel outdoorsy, I entered Colgate ready to experience the great outdoors and get in touch with my inner Johnny Appleseed.
Over the past few years, I’ve gotten caught up with other aspects of school and although I wouldn’t trade in my experiences, I still feel bad that I missed out so much on the great outdoors. Apparently we have the “Harvard of Outdoor Education”, but I feel that the program goes unnoticed for the majority of students. This led me to Lake Moraine, the man-made reservoir and home of Colgate’s Glendening Boathouse. After showing my Gatecard and essentially signing away of my soul on a contract I was able to take out a canoe free of charge. Even though I launched from the shore without my paddle and I know I’ll never be Calamity Jane or even anyone that played her in a Made-For-T.V. movie, I still like to paddle (or just sit) out on the lake. There will be time to do other things later.