Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Sam Obstfeld

Activities?  I am in the Outdoors Club, Habitat for Humanity Club, and I play on the Ultimate Frisbee team.This semester, I am at the Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program studying oceanography and maritime history, literature, policy and skills.

Why Wheaton?  I like the location. It is close enough to Boston and Providence that it is easy to get there for an evening, but it is still in a small, cozy town where the campus feels like its own environment.

Teaching at ecology camp: The camp was located in the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, in Cross River, NY. It was an ecology camp run by Westchester County Dept. of Parks, Recreation and Conservation, one of a group of camps throughout the county parks. Middle school children are my favorite age group to work with.  They are old enough that one can teach full lessons without having to leave out the more complicated information, yet young enough that everything is still new to them.

I taught plant and animal identification, orienteering skills, the Principles of Leave No Trace, and some of the pressing ecological issues in the park (for example, deer overpopulation). I have learned that I enjoy not only leading groups through the wilderness, and teaching the requisite backpacking and camping skills, but also the ecological education that can fit in so neatly with the environment.

Most thrilling adventure: My most thrilling adventure was a night hike during which a tree fell less than 100 yards away from the group. The story is, once every camp session, the group I was teaching would spend a night camping out in the woods. During this night out in the woods, we would all take a hike on a main trail, without the use of flashlights, in order to force ourselves to rely on senses other than sight to find our way. The camp director led these hikes, and on this particular night, it had been raining all evening. As we were hiking, a tree fell very close by, and scared everyone in the group, except for the director, who said, and I quote, “It’s just a tree!”

Something interesting about me: Before coming to Wheaton College, I deferred a year, in order to take a break from the standard academic life. During my year off, I attended a semester of the Nation Outdoor Leadership School, in which I went backpacking, rock climbing, white water kayaking and canoeing, canyoneering, and, finally, backcountry skiing in Wyoming and Utah. I also lived in Costa Rica for 3 months, during which I attended an immersion Spanish language school and lived with a host family, and joined a volunteer program run by the organization Raleigh International. With Raleigh, I helped build a schoolhouse in a rural village, trekked through the countryside, and worked on trails with forest rangers on an island in a Costa Rican national park.