It was the coldest week in the dead of winter, but for myself, a faculty member, and 8 students from State University of New York-Plattsburgh, these last 7 days have been a great experience.
Top BCU coach Steve Maynard called me up a while back asking for some local guide knowledge and assistance for his Expedition Studies class which was heading for Tybee and the GA coast. I was glad he did.
For me, working with youth in outdoor programs has long been a favourite aspect of being a guide.
When those students are very well equipped and under the expert tutelage and guidance of someone such as Mr Maynard, you know the standard of programming and learning will be as good as it gets.
I had touched down from India the week prior, and into Spring-like conditions.
Five days later the Plattsburgh crew were blown south by 40' temps and north winds gusting to 30. "Here we go", I thought.
The weather remained the same way for the duration of their visit.
The program for the week was to build skills, build experience, learn about the coast, and broaden horizons.
We achieved these goals thru 4 nights of camping in two different sites, an introduction to short boat surf kayaking, and a day of hiking with coastal authority Mike Robinson.
We did rescues and towing, group management and leadership through surf, boat control in wind and waves, marsh navigation skills, tandem sit on top surfing, and paddling a wave ski without capsizing. We snuck up on fresh water ponds, observed pelican behaviour, saw large flocks of great blues herons, witnessed young bald eagles sparing, tumbling over head, and had dolphin escorts when moral flagged. Around a fire on starry beaches, we shared stories of our lives. The sun rose up on glorious mornings and shone in crystal clear blue skies. We saw no other soul save for a solitary crabber. And all the while the north wind blew, our tents rattled and the temperature dropped. We barely noticed the rain, our exteriors already drenched from salty seas.
We had ice on our tents and frozen cliff bars. Fingers and faces turned red hot, numb from wind burn. Gear failed, skegs jammed and bodies shivered. Along with the tide, moral ebbed and flowed. The lessons came one after another, no introduction needed.
New friendships were made and old friendships were strengthened.
This was learning.
This was Expedition Studies and the classroom was the GA coast, in the dead of winter.
Steve and the Gang getting tight.