Webster Lehmann: Webster and the Wilderness

Webster Lehmann: Webster and the Wilderness

Wilderness Adventure trips are often segues into participating in more outdoor activities at Colgate. Webster Lehmann is a senior from Saint Paul, Minn. who concentrates in geology. Before arriving on campus for his first year, Lehmann went on one of Colgate’s pre-orientation Wilderness Adventure (WA) trips. When he got to Colgate, he tried out a couple of clubs, and none of them were clicking. The leaders of his WA program inspired him to apply for the Outdoor Education (OE) program. After being accepted into OE, Lehmann participated in a year-long training program throughout his first year. In his sophomore and junior years, Lehmann led physical education classes and backyard adventure trips that encouraged Colgate students to spend time outdoors. Lehmann explained the challenging and rewarding nature of being an OE leader. 

“When you lead classes you meet a lot of different people with different skill sets and ways of learning. It is a fun opportunity to figure out how to teach a skill to someone who might not be picking it up,” Lehmann said. “To be a really good leader is to not just teach the way you know how to learn, but learning how to be adaptive and learning how to change lessons and work with somebody. Everyone can mountain bike if they build those skill sets. If someone isn’t picking it up, it’s mainly because you haven’t found the right way, as the leader, to teach them. It is kind of like a fun puzzle to figure out and when it clicks, that is the best part of the job.”

As a senior, Lehmann is one of the four seniors in OE who helps train the eighteen new first-year and sophomore members. Currently, the OE team is recruiting new members for next fall. Like Lehmann, many students join OE because of their experience in a WA program. Others come across the OE Instagram page or see their posters around campus. OE also does tabling events where members sit outside the Coop to promote the program. These events allow OE to reach out to the community to talk and get them excited about doing outdoor activities. When students apply for OE, they go through an in-depth application process. 

“The process starts with an information session so people know what they are getting into because it is a fairly intense program. If people are still interested they do the written application. Then, we have a large group interview, a small group interview, and an individual interview. It is a three or four week process in total,” said Lehmann. 

Once students are accepted into the OE program, they join a community. Lehmann explains that the tight-knit community makes OE a special and unique environment. 

“People view OE as an outdoor club and in a way we are, but in principle I think we are a lot more than that. My favorite part is the people. There are a lot of people from different majors and interests. It is a nice opportunity to meet people I might not meet otherwise. As a trainer this year, I have had a lot of fun with my group of eighteen sophomores and juniors,” said Lehmann. “We do movie nights, they come over and cook lunch or dinner with me and we go do outdoor things. The job is great and doing the training is great. At the end of the day, both of those things are great because of the people and because we all like spending time together.”

Lehmann is deeply passionate about both OE and his geology major because they allow him to spend time outdoors. After he graduates in May, Lehmann plans to continue devoting time to his favorite outdoor activities: rock climbing and mountain biking.