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What’s Next?

Ryderz only – by Chris Cardon ’17 and Mara Tynan ’18

It was lit. By the moon. It was moonlit. The slight breeze rustled through the dark figures of the trees lining the shores of the Maury River. The bright illuminating moon scarcely revealed the glassy water that lay ahead. We prepared ourselves to carry the large paddle boards into the river. Our group of 11 brave souls tested the chilly water, knelt on our boards, and pushed off. The journey entailed trial by fire… or cold water per se, to learn how to paddle board and become proficient in only a matter of moments…or else. We trudged forward in a herd-like manner discovering how each person deals with the challenges and stress brought forward by the situation. Uncertainty turned to laughs and smiles as we gained confidence in paddling, but the real laughs came from discovering how easily that confidence could crumble as the first adventurer went down. The cohesion between the members of the herd rapidly eroded as it turned into a war to knock down the remaining dominoes. No one was safe and no one was innocent.

img_20150418_062845237Our Outing Club experience has been made up of priceless moments such as these. From paddle boarding, to hiking, to horseback riding, there is no shortage of opportunities to get outside and get involved. Each trip brings together a unique group of people who learn, fail, succeed, and bond with one another all with a common goal and love of enjoying the outdoors. Individually, each trip can push you to your limits be it on a social, physical, or intellectual level or can simply be a relaxing experience with friends new and old. The Outing Club is a true learning experience as it enables you to learn new things about yourself as well as the area we are fortunate enough to live in. This area is rich in natural beauty but that wealth can only be tapped into if we make the effort to get out and live it.

Humans and nature share an intimate relationship that is often represented as a img_20161029_124430001dichotomy, however, this could not be farther from the truth. Awareness of our place in the world that surrounds us can only be learned through experience, one that is still impossible to simulate through a LED screen. Outing club for me has been much more than an exciting outlet to spend a free weekend day or opportunity to take a new instagram or facebook profile picture. Outing club provides the opportunity to extend the classroom well beyond the walls it traditionally has been confined to and the timeframe that it exists within. If it is a midnight paddle/swim down the Maury river, cavernous exploration, rigorous hike, or scenic horseback trot, the interaction with nature has stimulated simultaneous exploration of myself. How else does one accurately define their limits other than continuing to test and exceeding their previously perceived boundaries – mental or physical. The excitement of expanding our scope with each excursion is contagious, in the end establishing bonds that could be equally as unexpected. Lenny Enkhbold, a trip leader and priceless contributor to the outing club community, takes this concept and has the cunning ability to build trips around this intimate relationship. Learning about each other and ourselves in this form can forge bonds and experiences that will last well past our time at Washington and Lee.

img_20161018_221540843After returning to shore, soaking wet, but faces flushed with the adrenaline of the trip, it was time to clean up. The experience of this was twofold. Living in the blissful bubble we do here, we often forget the impact we can have on our surroundings and on others. Much as we wanted to clean, store, and protect the boards and paddles so that other students can enjoy as great of an experience as we had just had, when we enjoy nature, we must also remember to protect it so that others can enjoy it after us. Additionally, we also found a way to continue the fun and silliness we had just experienced on the water in the typically monotonous task of cleaning that often follows good fun. Because we had just enjoyed such a great experience and because we simply enjoyed the company we were with, cleaning up was a breeze and we reveled in signing the walls of the OC barn, welcoming the newcomers whose first trip this was, and reading the signatures of previous visitors, reminiscing in memories of past trips. This all culminated in a continuation of the water battle started on the river as we sprayed each other with the hose. End the surreal experience on such a high note left us waiting anxiously for our next Outing Club trip. It cannot come quickly enough!

Chris Cardon ’17 is a senior Business and Accounting major. He regularly travels the world and is an avid lover of the Chinese culture. His favorite pastimes include enjoying life with family and friends, representing the US Army, and winning. Chris is a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and the ROTC program at VMI.

Mara Tynan ’18 is a junior Psychology major. She is a strong swimmer and speaker of the Spanish language. Basically, she is a squid. Her favorite activity is to draw circles in class. She is a member of Alpha Delti Pi sorority and loves her best friend Camilla.


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