May 12, 2010

The end is near!!!!!

Hi folks,

We are really getting close to the SophX! Recently I have been doing some medical screening and last minute adjustments to the gear. In two weeks I will give my internship presentation and hand in my portfolio which has all of my documented accomplishments at NHS. Thanks, for your support this is an amazing community with great individuals.

Taylor Huntley
Intern of Experiential Learning

April 2, 2010

Back to the future

Well, it was an awesome spring break and the Junior Urban Adventure (JUA) was an experience that we all learned from. I am back in the swing of things here on the New Hampton School Campus and working on a promotional video for the JUA (keep an eye out!).
The Soph X is getting closer and I find that it is time to start putting my focus back to the future.

Be well,

Taylor Huntley
Intern of Experiential Learning

March 19, 2010

Back from break & off to Boston

Howdy folks,

This break has been awesome. Hans and I have been wrapping up the Soph X. staff training logistics as the JUA draws closer and closer. The gear room is always seeing action and is still looking GREAT! It has been very quite around campus this past week; I am looking forward to having the students back and with them the dinning hall.

My next blog will be on the JUA site, check it out. I am really looking forward to using my video skills from this short film to a JUA montage, so be on the look out. I have already selected the music!

As always a pleasure to serve the NHS community,

Taylor B. Huntley
Intern of Experiential Learning

March 15, 2010

Adventure Ed News & Culture

I was checking out the blog for the Association for Experiential Education and saw that their blog roll was a little short. As is my wont I complained about this on Twitter and got a quick reply back from @AssnforEE, nice!

So I decided to drag the ol' Burleigh Blog kicking and screaming out of retirement (actually Taylor is doing a great job of that already) and post some links to my favorite adventure ed blogs (in no particular order).

Coffee, Rainwater & Chalkboards in Ethopia & Beyond

This is the blog of my old friend Adam, a Prescott College Grad, NOLSie (though I don't hold that against him) and current VSO volunteer in Ethopia. It's a
good read, even if he doesn't always stay on topic.

News, Opinion & Trip Reports

This sometimes irreverent but always well written and far ranging blog covers all sorts of mountain news, culture and media. Written by a frequent contributor to well known print mags.

Team Building Blog

Although already collecting a nod on the AEE blog, Michael Cardus deserves another mention. His blog is chock full of team building goodness. Anyone who can do this with mouse traps deserves a click of the 'subscribe' button.

Mt. McKinley Glacier Landings & Scenic Flights

Although I didn't use TAT when I flew into Denali in 1998 (holy crap, that was more than 10 years ago!) they win the best blog in town award for their beautiful photography, trip reports and Alaskan humor.

Although everyone in Carhart Land disowned me back when I stopped living in my car, they are going to do it all over again now that I'm mentioning this great blog. It's a sweet dose of leadership, instructor profiles, school news and industry info.

Learn from Others' Mistakes (and Triumphs)

This blog is just like Accidents in North American Mountaineering except without all the boring charts. Rate this one 'Daily Dose of Cringe +10.'

Experiential & Organizational Learning in East Lothien

A refreshing British Perspective on our industry. Very consistent and thoughtful writing.

March 1, 2010

SophX Gear Room Whirl-wind

Finally the moment you've all been waiting for. Check this out....

February 26, 2010

More snow please

Hey everyone,

It was a great week here at NHS. My focus in the science and sustainability class has taken off. I spend 3 days a week helping out with labs and reviews. In preparation for my JUA montage I have written a short screen play (my first) that will be featured on this blog shortly. It will be based on gear prep for the Soph. Ex. (Hans and I did come to the impeccable realization that indeed we are gear nerds)

I had an awesome opportunity to help out with the recreational skiing this Wednesday...... sweet powder for my new love of Telemark Skiing!

Thanks to everyone at NHS for making my stay increasingly enjoyable.

Bring on more snow,

February 17, 2010

An Organizational Whirl Wind


Last week I spent a good amount of time in the Soph Ex Room (a small space with little light where rumor has it, a small creature/ student lives on fish heads supplied by the lunch ladies).
Anyways, here are some pics from before my organizational whirl wind. You can see that the
shelves were being held together by tape.

Now, with the help of Joseph, a new light and some elbow grease we relocated the creature/ student, have new shelves and an improved system. Check this out!

Awesome right! The internship is moving right along and soon I will be blogging for the JUA! That is going to be a fun adventure. I will make sure to attach the links to this site so nobody will miss out on the action.
Also, stay tuned for a short film of some sort relating to Soph Ex.

Until next time,

February 5, 2010

Hi, I am the Spring 2010 Intern of Experiential Education

I'm Taylor the intern working with Mr. Has Mundahl for the duration of the 2009-2010 academic year. This week has been kind of an orientation for me at NHS, so let me fill you in on a few things I will be working on this spring.

1. Assisting with completion of logistical preparations for Soph Ex, including gear room refurbishment.

2. Making a promotional video for JUA, including filming before and during the courses.

3. Reviewing and updating a mock AEE accreditation from 2005, in hopes of moving the Program/ School further in a potential course to be accredited by the Association of Experiential Education.

Also, I will be working with several faculty members in the science department in a classroom setting (a little different then I am used to coming from an Adventure Education program).

Speaking of faculty, I will be attending the 7:45 am faculty meetings every Wednesday morning, coffee anyone? I had to a thermos full this week.

All in all I am feeling great about how my time here at NHS will be spent. After a welcome from 400 students and staff at todays school meeting who wouldn't? I have a variety of projects that will keep things interesting, not to mention the food is awesome! So thanks all and I look forward to keeping you updated on the regular.


March 10, 2009

Mapping Idea

I'm curious about using collaborative mapping techniques to make an accurate map of Burleigh Mountain. Check out this draft Google Map I made of the property. These aren't real boundaries or locations yet, but as a proof of concept it looks pretty good.

View Larger Map

February 21, 2009

Moving Forward (on showshoes)

This past week we've seen some pretty interesting developments regarding the future of Burleigh! For starters we met with Tom, a forester out of Rumney who will be working with us to develop a forestry management plan for the mountain. The plan will take into account:

  • Recreation
  • Selective harvesting
  • Education
  • Wildlife habitat development
  • Preserving peace and quiet
I'm very pleased with his point of view about engaging our students and teachers and doing some of the boundary maintenance and timber surveying. Many thanks to Kirk for his great work finding Tom.

After that we had a great brainstorming snowshoe on Burleigh that Russ and Bekka were able to attend. We started thinking about both short term and long term ideas for using Burleigh. Here is a short list of the things we came up with:

  • Firewood based community service project
  • Field study for International Baccalaureat science courses to increase 'contact hours'
  • Afternoon co-curricular activity for students around sustainability
  • Mapping project for new course proposed for 09-10, "Projects in Sustainability"
  • More opportunities to get students and community members to the mountain
  • Paul's Eagle Scout project around the fire ring, wood shed and signage
We also had a great hike in which we explored the eastern side of the Burleigh property and found some sign of rabbit, deer, moose and a mysterious animal I'm calling the Leaping Tree Hare.

Here's what happened - Russ will often keep a running dialog with others as he hikes (and also possibly with himself) about the things he is observing in nature. His 'nature nuggets' range from tracks to trees and are always interesting and entertaining. As we were hiking along he pointed out some little branches near the ground that had been stripped of bark. "Rabbit browse," he proclaimed. As we were nodding we noticed that the same nibbled bark strips went up the tree three, four, ten, twenty feet up the tree! Russ was stumped, but I wasn't, it's clearly the rare and elusive Burleigh Mountain Leaping Tree Hare, and not the first unusual species to be spotted on the mountain.

As we were wrapping up our hike we started talking about some sort of project that would capture the imagination of both students and faculty. Something that would get folks fired up about Burleigh that could be done in a relatively short period of time. We decided to work on the old lift shack that is located about half way up the mountain.

Here's the vision - we need your help still to fill in the details: Tear this old shack down, pull out the Chevy engine and rebuild it on the same footprint (same approximate size) as a retreat, hermitage, shelter and destination. An oasis as it were, hidden away on a mountain top.

We figure we can do this in about two semesters with students from community service projects and faculty help. Check out the view the place would have - I had to bushwack over a few yards to get the picture to the left, but with a small amount of clearing we can get this view for the Oasis.

So there is a lot of energy right now, pretty exciting - stay tuned for more developments both short term and long term.

In addition to the folks who went out for a hike last week there has been kind of a growing group of folks who are interested and excited in contributing. For me this has been perhaps the most exciting part of this whole thing. Many thanks to CJ, Darren, Sandy, Paul, Bob and many others who are excited to do some great work.

Social Media Case Study?

The story of the Banff Mountain Film Festival spoof video I made a while back continues with an awesome post from the BMFF over on their world tour blog. I started thinking about how this whole thing played out and I think there are a few things that I've learned here for both fans like me and organizations like the Banff Mountain Film Festival.

  1. Mashups are easy to make. Organizations can't controll our own media any more and anyone with a relatively small amount of money and skill can take official media and mash it up. Witness my little spoof movie: as recently as a few years ago it would have been impossible or highly cumbersome to make. Now anybody with a Mac and an internet connection can do this.
  2. There is no such thing as a little engagement. If organizations want to get into the social media game and post stuff on YouTube or be on Facebook we need to understand that we are inviting participation. We might not always like the outcome but we're agreeing with the participation when we engage.
  3. Organizations have a choice. To crack try to crack down on media they didn't create, or to foster and channel it. In this case BMFF fostered it because the media was basically funny and harmless and spoke to the kind of people who go to the festival to begin with.
  4. Make yourself findable. It's pretty easy to find me through my YouTube channel. I link from there to my blog and from the blog to my online portfolio which has contact information for me and I respond to comments. This allowed us to dialog and determine the intentions of the other relatively quickly.
  5. Generosity pays. Every step of the way the BMFF has been incredibly generous. They have asked my permission to re-post the video (more than I did when I made it!), left comments, checked in and sent dozens of emails. I've responded by posting links to their work on the YouTube channel, blogging about it, FaceBooking about it and bringing a friend with me to the tour show.
  6. ROI? What's that? I'm not sure how preoccupied anyone has been here with return on investment. I made the mashup for fun in my free time and never thought about what I would get back from it other than a funny video. BMFF has spent at least some time working on this, emailing me, checking in with the composer etc, that they could have been doing something else. I'm not sure what the net gain of this is for them in terms of fans, exposure and ticket sales, I guess they will have to answer that question. For me as a professional I've gained wider exposure to me and my work and that's priceless!
Many thanks to Shannon, Meagan, wanderingscout, charlamae and everyone else for this facinating experience.

January 30, 2009

Building the Future of Burleigh Mountain

Greetings folks! We are starting an exciting new chapter in the future of Burleigh Mountain, New Hampton School's Wilderness Campus, and I wanted to invite you to be a part of it!

We are starting the process of developing a Forestry Management Plan for Burleigh that will include recreation, education, selective harvesting, conservation, habitat creation and local outreach. As you know Burleigh Mountain already is a place where students, faculty and staff of NHS do great work and we're looking forward to taking this facility and the work we do there to the next level.

To kick things off I'm inviting you to a brainstorming session and snowshoe hike on Tuesday February 17th at 1:30pm on Burleigh!

  • We'll meet on the mountain but let me know if you need a ride from the school or would like to carpool up to save gas and parking spots.
  • Dogs, friends, children, neighbors, relatives, significant others et al are all welcome
  • Bring snowshoes if you have them, sturdy boots if you don't, dress in layers and bring a water bottle (we'll have some snackies and get a fire going if we're chilly)
Leave a comment on this post if you can make it - we'd love to see you there!

January 16, 2009

This is so fricking cool

There have been a couple of experiences and people in my life that have just been so profoundly cool that they have changed my world view forever.

The first time this happened was when I studied in Salzburg, Austria. There, at the foothills of the Alps, I climbed peaks I had previously only imagined. But more than that, by experiencing different cultures, points of view and traditions I came to have a very different perspective on myself and my own part of the world.

Later I would stumble more than stride into a career in adventure education. But this choice, or series of choices, would allow me entry into a comunity of passionate educators, skilled outdoors people and thoughtful stewards. Norbert at Outward Bound Germany was an early mentor as was Franz with OB in the US. There are amazing people in this field!

Lately I've been discovering that technology, once something I actively avoided, has contributed to the richness of my personal and professional life in tangible ways. This blog has built connections with educators in other countries, exploring wikis connected me to Noelle's work, ultimately leading to friendships with Wendy, Avinash, Atila, and many others around the world!

More recently this whole series of interactions with the Banff Film Festival people has been so fricking cool! How sweet is it that the creative toolbox is cheap enough that mere mortals like me can pick it up and play with it?! How cool is it that my work of homage can be shared with the people that I'm honoring and they can interact with it too?!

In many ways, I now realize, I've been focusing the last few years on passing it on. Maybe I can be a catalyst for my students? I'm not sure, but so far the ride has been pretty amazing, and I can't wait to see where it leads next.

December 8, 2008

Banff Bad Mountain Movies

I really have enjoyed the Banff Mountain Film Festival. Not that I've been to Banff, but the traveling 'best of' show has come to New Hampshire and I've gone the last few years. Its an amazing collection of great mountain movies and I really recommend it.

A while back I started wondering what my favorite bad mountain movies were. These are mostly Hollywood productions that attempt to use rock climbing or mountaineering as a vehicle to spin some sort of a yarn. Usually the films fail to portray mountaineering well, and usually don't do a good job of telling the story either. And yet, I can't help but loving these movies!

In homage to these bad films and to the Banff Mountain Film Festival I put together this 'best of the worst.' I hope you enjoy.

Strangely enough the editor of the real Banff trailer found it and left some positive comments. That just totally and completely made my day.

Update 1/16: The person who edits the real Banff Trailer isn't a 'guy,' my apologies!
Update 1/30: I had a very nice email exchange with Shannon from the Banff Center who let me know that Jacques Blackstone, the composer of the theme music for the Banff trailer is okay with my unlicensed use of his music in my spoof trailer. How crazy is that? Run, don't walk, to his Web site and buy some of his music now!

November 6, 2008

Networking Opportunity

Hi folks - are you interested in Experiential or Adventure Education and you are in the North East? Rick Baukel of the Olivarian School is organizing a gathering of educators and contacted me to help him spread the word.

The gathering is planned for November 11 at 6:30pm in the 'Boiler Room' of the Common Man Inn in Plymouth, NH.

The idea is to gather socially to see what kinds of collaboration might be interesting and helpful to this group of passionate and skilled educators working in one of the most beautiful parts of the east!

Want to start networking prior to next week? Comment in on this post to get the dialog started.

Hope to see you Tuesday.

October 15, 2008

Speaking of which!

Funny - just one day after posting about emerging independent school adventure networks I got this email from Jess at Albuquerque Academy talking about the ISAN conference!

"55% of the 60 available slots for the 2009 Independent Schools Adventure Network Institute are already booked! Given the current economic situation, schools will need, more than ever, to define themselves and establish a meaningful competitive edge, which may be recognized through unique and value-added experiential curricula. There's never been a better or more important time to be involved with ISAN! To register please email Jess Barrie at with your name, school, title, email, and phone number.

Previous information about the ISAN Institute can be found below and online at

Please let me know if you have any questions and happy fall!

Jess Barrie
ISAN Steering Committee Member & Registration Coordinator"

So that's pretty cool - check it out and see what you think!

October 14, 2008

New England Adventure Networks

New England is a beautiful area - we have mountains, rivers and the ocean. Combine that with the proliferation of educational institutions, summer camps and guiding outfits and you have a pretty sweet environment for folks who like to work with young people in the outdoors.

Why then aren't there more networks connecting us all together? I was asked this question recently by a colleague from the Oliverian School. I was inspired to write this post and share a few links of local or niche educator networks.

Still I think there is some opportunity for some kind of a network of New England professionals working in schools - I don't see a lot of movement in that area.

So stay tuned - I think we're going to arrange some kind of a social gathering to start the ball rolling on some kind of a network!

September 24, 2008

Mt. Bike Races and Nature Art

The mountain has been busy so far this fall. We've had team building programs, start of school orientations and even nature art taking place on the mountain!

It's been a great start so far!

June 27, 2008

Pre-Timber Harvest Walk at Hersey Mountain Forest

I got a letter yesterday from the New England Forestry Foundation letting us know about a 'pre-timer harvest' walk in Hersey Mountain Forest. Since Burleigh abuts the Hersey Mountain Forest I'm guessing we are on the mailing list.

A couple of folks have voiced some interest so I thought I'd provide more details here. Here's what the letter says:

Please join a New England Forestry Foundation forester for a tour of the Hersey Mountain Forest on Tuesday July 15 from 4-6pm. This is an opportunity for community residents and others who are interested to see how the New England Forestry Foudation cares for its forests. Participants will learn to identify a variety of tree species found on the forest and see how the removal of some trees promotes the growth of others and improves overall forest health. Hersey Mountain is unique in the New England Forestry Foundation owernership, because two thirds of it is set aside as a wilderness, and the other third is sustainably managed formultiple forest benefits including wood.

These timber harvests are part of the New England Forestry Foundation's sustainability plans, providing wildlife habitat, clean water, clean ari and recreational opportunities for community residents. If you would like to see a map of the Hersey Mountain Forest click here.

Directions: We will meet at the intersection of Blake Hill road and Brook Road. From New Hampton village take the Old Bristol Road toward Bristol. Follow it for approximately 2.4 miles to where it turns right at the intersection with Blake Hill Road. Continue straight ahead onto Blake Hill Road and follow it approximately .7 miles to the intersection with Brook Road.

For more information contact Si Balch (978) 952-6856 x106.

I'm thinking about going out on the hike - maybe I'll see you there!

June 20, 2008

Custom Designed Team Building

Are you interested in a custom designed team building program? We can do a half day or full day program for your group custom designed for your goals starting as low as $20 per person.

Our programs, designed to build the effectiveness of your team or group, can include:

  • Low ropes activities like the Spider's Web and Walk of Life
  • Problem solving activities
  • High ropes course on our Alpine Tower challenge course
Check out the video above to see a program we designed for the Sant Bani School in Sanbornton, NH.

Call Hans Mundahl, Director of Experiential Learning (603) 677-3546 for more info.

May 2, 2008

Not Very Good With Goodbyes

Well this is it, my last day as an intern at New Hampton School. I have had such a wonderful time working in this community. I have also greatly enjoyed working with Hans; I have learned a lot from him from Blogging, to Spreadsheets, to MacGyver-ing MSR Stoves, just to name a few.

However, this is not the end! In two weeks I will be joining the Sophomore's and their staff on the SophX! I can't wait... and if I still have a blog account I'll fire one off telling you all about it. This will also give me the opportunity to see how well I did at packing gear... hopefully it is Very Well.

Well, I must be on my way. Farewell.

P.S. I'm awful with goodbyes, if that wasn't already apparent.

April 25, 2008

Hello everyone!

This has been an exciting week, Sophomore Ex is drawing closer and closer by the minute and everything is coming along nicely. There are just a few more items to put in the gear bins to be sent out and we're beginning to repair some gear, which is nice because I've been looking at the pile of gear that needs repair all semester in anticipation. A few tents need some small patch work done and two of the backpacks have chest clip issues, while another has a broken buckle. The broken buckle will be an easy fix, but the chest clips gave me some hard time. I was working on the thing for quite some time until one of the maintenance guys pulled out a heat gun and we made it happen. Those guys are good. We've also got some new color-coordinated signs for the gear room that feature the SophX logo. They just need to be attached now. I have almost finished the Paper Bag List of things to do that Hans gave me on Monday. To be honest, and a little nerdy, I can't wait to cross it all off.

April 18, 2008

From Ascending Pipes to Japanese Auto Grease

Wow, it feels like forever since I last blogged... there is so much to tell. The past two weeks witnessed the creation of the new sleeping bag storage system, an awesome AEE Conference in Peterborough, the first stage of packing group gear for the Sophomore Expedition, and Greasing the Alpine Tower's APDs on Burleigh Mountain!

I used a hacksaw to cut through steel for the first time as I was making the new sleeping bag storage system. It is really cool; we used five pulleys to attach a steel pipe to the ceiling allowing it to vertically raise and lower so that we can hang the sleeping bags and then pull them up and out of the way. Below are pictures of the attachment points so that you can get the gist of the system, but we have since shortened the pipe, brought the attachment points closer together, and opted to use the other side of the room for the anchor.

My first AEE Conference was a blast! Everyone was so friendly and interested in the field; the Sargent Center was saturated with knowledge. I also was able to meet up with friends who graduated last year. Overall great experience, I can't wait for the next one!

As for the packing, it is very exciting to walk into the gear room and see the bins prepared and almost ready to go. Their presence is a sign that the expedition is almost here.

I felt very thankful for sunny days today as I got to go up to Burleigh Mountain and work outside. Now I had never greased APDs before, and for that matter had yet to have seen the type of APD on the Alpine Tower, but I was more than willing to get knee-deep in what I think was Japanese Auto Grease if it meant soaking up some sun!

April 17, 2008

AEE Conference (More from Day 1)

As I jump back into the day to day craziness / excitement of work at NHS I'm still trying to keep hold of the learning from the conference just this past weekend.

We're ramping up big time for our Sophomore Cooperative Learning Expedition as well as community service days on Burleigh.

But today I wanted to write about an interesting program that Ryan McMahon is doing over at the Newfound Regional High School. He is building kayaks with a group of 9th and 10th grade students. They have set up blogs for their progress and after the kayaks are complete they will be taking them out on a three day trip on Newfound Lake.

Ryan came to my workshop and it was great to see how another educator just around the corner was doing experiential education and sharing the results online. You can follow along with his work at the 9th grade blog and the 10th grade blog. I'm learning quite a bit from the blog like what a sheer clamp and butt block is.

April 13, 2008

AEE Conference Report (Day 1)

I'm back from the conference and I thought I would share a few thoughts and reports. Overall I learned a ton and re-connected with some former colleagues. Good fun. Here were the workshops I attended:

3 Props, 30 Activities (Chris Ortiz of High 5 Adventures)
I figured I had to go to at least one fun and games workshop! This one was interesting in that it focused only on activities you could do with tape, fleece balls and plastic circles. I'm going to try and scan the handout of all the games and share it with you here. Good fun.
For more information: Check out High Five's website including their books section.

Introduction to AEE's Accreditation Program
(Jed Williamson of the AEE)
I was really excited for this workshop since we're strongly considering starting the accreditation process in 2009. Jed is the editor of the Accidents in North American Mountaineering and helped write the accreditation standards. He was an amazing resource and I came away from the workshop hopeful that we're on the right track with our accreditation bid. Furthermore I was convinced that the process is a mature one that has real tangible benefits for us. Now I just need to pick up the standards manual!
For more information: The main AEE website, info on accreditation, or buy the accreditation standards manual.

Practitioner Certification - A Progress Update from ACCT
(Jim Grout of ACCT)
The practitioner certification program newly created by the Association for Challenge Course Technology is in the beginning stages. Responding to the recent legislation in Massachusetts and to industry trends the ACCT has developed a two level certification process for folks who work on ropes courses and a third level for course managers. This process seems much less mature than the accreditation process I mentioned above and is still in the development stages. Jim made a great point that training, review and outside input have always been good ideas, now all this is simply made more formalized. I also like that it is possible for experienced folks to 'challenge in' at any level. I'm not so sure about the lengthy portfolio requirement.
For more info: Check out the ACCT website, or buy their practitioner and builder standards.

Blog it - How free web tools changed our programs (by me!)
I had good turn out at my workshop which was exciting and a good dialog. Feedback was positive. Yay!

For more info: See the workshop wiki.

April 11, 2008

AEE Conference

I'm excited to be heading to Sargent Center tomorrow for the AEE Regional Conference. I was pretty excited back when my conference proposal was accepted and I'd kind of been putting off thinking about it until after our Board of Trustee meeting. Well that's over and here comes the conference!

I'll be blogging the conference while I'm there as much as I'm able and I'll take the usual pictures etc.

I'm quite excited to see former colleagues both from Thompson Island as well as from the New Hampton School. I've made a wiki for the workshop where you can see my keynote as well as download the hand outs and all that good stuff.

More soon from Peterborough!

April 6, 2008

Inspirational Writing and Big-Daddy Pulleys

What a week! With the AEE Conference right around the corner I have been frantically trying to put the finishing touches on my paper about Kurt Hahn and his Six Declines of Values in Youth and it has turned out to be more stressful than I had anticipated. However, luckily for me, some of Kurt Hahn's writings are available online and they can be very inspirational. My personal favorite is "The Love of Enterprise, The Love of Aloneness, The Love of Skill" which he presented to the Liverpool Cathedral the day after it was bombed by Nazi Germany. This is such an overawing piece of work when you combine its eloquence with the context that he delivered it in. Here was a German educator presenting his philosophy of education to an audience who A) thought his philosophy was heathen (because of its Platonic influence) and B) who was just bombed by Germany the night before. Nonetheless he still delivers his work with such passion and enthusiasm... it is incredible how much this man believed in his cause. Seriously, check it out.

Update 4/11: Click here to download and read Matt's paper! (HM)

Now that I am done ranting, I can fill you in on the goings-on in the gear room for the past week. We've had some things come in here and there including a couple of sleeping bags which is pretty awesome... the more the merrier. And speaking of sleeping bags, we've begun work on the sleeping bag hang system which should protect them a bit more and allow NHS to use them for a bit longer. Its pretty diesel with some big-daddy pulleys and such. I'll have more for you when we finish it, including some pictures if my camera phone is up for the task.

April 2, 2008

Things are gearing up

We've had our first community service day on Burleigh in which a new stove was partially installed in the lower yurt and 10 community children came out for the Adventure Clinic!

We also have been preparing both staff and students for the Sophomore Expedition. That program has it's own blog where you can see pictures and posts from the weekend backpacking staff training. Not only did we do some great snowshoeing but we also built a cool dining room.

March 30, 2008

Hello out there! I am stoked that I found my username and password finally, I have been looking for it all weekend. While I was looking for that Hans and Ilana were taking the SophX staff out into the wilderness of Burleigh Mtn for training. I am very excited to hear how it went; I hope they had a good time. I felt a great responsibility packing their only gear for two days and I am anticipating getting their feedback. And believe it or not, I am even kind of exicted to put it away so that I can get a sense of what and how things were used.

Meanwhile, in the Gear Room, we've been cleaning up a little bit because we know the traffic is about to increase. It was loads of fun investigating the history of the Gear Room and the Adventure Ed program at NHS, and I was fortunate enough to see a couple of student projects from a few years ago that were really good. Besides that, I have been racking my brain trying to design some way to hang up the sleeping bags. That is going to be a really fun project. If anyone knows anything about pulleys (where to get them, or how to attach them to the ceiling) please let me know

March 27, 2008

Ecology Blogging

My friend and colleague Russ has started an ecology blog that was recently featured in the Spring Hamptonia. Check it out!

He's just getting started but he's got some nice links and pictures up already. I look forward to seeing the content he produces in the future.

March 7, 2008

Hi everyone. I have good news... all of the Halo 4 Tents have been checked! There are only a few minor repairs necessary and they'll be ready to go on the Sophomore Expedition. I was really impressed with the tent's design while I was checking them. For example, you know those times you zip-up your zipper too quickly and you snag a bit of fabric and then the zipper is stuck there for three days? When that happens to the zipper on the Halo 4, the fabric easily comes out. Also there are some pretty cool vents on the side of the tent that can either be closed via Velcro or opened using a small plastic rod that has Velcro on the end of it. Check it out:

The tent itself is pretty cool too. Its big and roomy and can be broken down into multiple parts so many people can help carry it, instead of just one person. Below is a picture of the tent with its rain fly, and below that is a picture of the tent without its rainfly (notice the golden pole going around the top of it? That's the "Halo" and it keeps the rainfly away from the netting.

Obviously, I am excited about recently learning how to put pictures from my phone on the computer. But whats even more exciting is that, since last week, the Patriots signed Randy Moss and Jabar Gaffney to deals; I told you I would keep you updated.

March 5, 2008

We're thinking of you!

The Holderness School, one of our neighbor institutions up the road from us also has an outdoor program that they call Outback. Chris, our Dean of Students used to run the program up there and he and I were chatting last night about the differences and similarities between the programs. As we ramp up for major preparations on our Sophomore Expedition it's great to know other schools and other students are finding the same kinds of challenges, insights and adventure!

They are out today on day three of the trip and are having some pretty tough weather this morning. Good luck folks - we're thinking about you!

February 29, 2008

Bruschi's Back!

For those of you who don't know, I am a diehard New England Patriots fan and we can begin to move on from last season's disappointing finale with the free agency period beginning today. We immediately re-signed my favorite player Tedy Bruschi for a thirteenth season, so I started today off in a good mood. Which was beneficial because I spent the whole day trying to figure out the Marmot Halo 4's and, moreover, trying to find a place to set them up. They are very roomy tents so the Sophomores will have plenty of space to stretch out and sleep after a long day of hiking on the expedition. I wasn't able to finish checking out all of them today but, with any luck, they will join the camp stoves and the backpacks and be all set to go sometime next week. I may just end up firing through all of the tents in no time if the Patriots re-sign Randy Moss sometime soon!

February 27, 2008

Snow makes people nervous

It's been a record year for snow here in the north east, the snowiest since 1887 in fact. Personally I love it, I love sledding, snowshoeing, all the things we have to do here in New England to avoid going crazy during this kind of weather.

But the snow also makes people nervous. Take for example my office window. Okay, I'll admit to being a bit nervous about the possibility of another cave in.
Compare this picture to an earlier one from the same point of view.

I think the largest group of folks on campus who are getting nervous about the large amounts of snow are the sophomores who are starting to think about our annual spring camping expedition. One of them asked me yesterday if I thought there would be snow on the trails at the end of May. I would guess yes at this point!

February 25, 2008

Risk Management Data

We just had our winter risk management meeting. I might be a risk management nerd, but I really enjoy moving our programs forward through careful consideration of the trade offs between risk and learning. We've had a small but active committee who shares this passion over the last few years.

In a significant acknowledgment of our work it looks like we're going to take on the risk assessment of the school in general. That's pretty cool! Nothing is final yet, but I'll keep you posted.

To get the ideas flowing though I thought I would share some incident data from our last five year safety review. Enjoy!

Archive Pictures

I was going through some archives today and found this great picture of Sadie rapelling from the Alpine Tower. I love this shot, it captures the spirit of the students who really have enjoyed the tower and the different kinds of programming we've done on the structure. It's pretty exciting that we're coming up on five years of courses on the tower.

February 22, 2008

Snowshoes and Igloos

Do you remember last winter when it seemed like there was hardly any snow? Neither do I. Today its been snowing all day as I finished up my second week of the internship here at NHS. It was a good day, we got the inventory finished up, we got an eight foot step ladder in the gear room, we got the fuel consolidated, and the shrimp and pasta dish at lunch was amazing. Additionally, I got to take part in another "School Meeting". At first, I was a bit hesitant about an entire school meeting, but I have really enjoyed the two that I have been to. They are informative, without being intimidating, and they set the attitudinal tone for the week. They get me all pumped up to prepare for the Sophmore Expedition, which at this rate, is going to call for some snowshoes and igloos.

February 19, 2008

Another White Mountain rescue

This time a happy ending as two Virginia hikers were found in the Presidential range. I wonder who tracks incident data for the White Mountain National Forest? Surely the US Forest Service must? It would be interesting to see the user numbers and incident numbers as we do for our programs.

I was thinking of publishing some of our most recent risk management data, especially as our five year anniversary of Alpine Tower programs comes up.

I'll keep you posted!

February 18, 2008

Good rescue news!

Finally, after all that glum news about rescues in the White Mountains we have a positive news story about peril in the high peaks. According to SlashFilm, Stalone will be reprising the role of Gabe Walker in Cliffhanger 2: The Dam. (Thanks to Niles for the tip).

Now that's something that's so bad - it just has to be good. If I could just find my bolt gun . . . .

February 15, 2008

Excited to be at NHS

Hey Folks,

My name is Matt Mansur and I am doing my internship here at New Hampton School. Today was a great day, I got to get accustomed to the Gear Room as well as improve my sleeping bag stuffing skills. I am really happy to see how excited everyone is for all the sports events this weekend, especially the men's and women's round-robins for basketball and the hockey game with play-off implications. I look forward to what the future will bring here.

February 14, 2008

SophX in the Himalayas?

Well, we're starting to get ready for the sophomore expedition. Our intern is starting tomorrow and Ilana will be working with him to get the ball rolling. When I was in Singapore I had some old SophX stuff and was spreading it around to some new friends. Avinash from Outward Bound Bharat in India was on a recon in the Himalaya and sent along some amazing pictures. In the picture above you can see a sophomore expedition shirt peaking out from behind his vest.

He and I are starting to talk about ways to get our kids over there to do an OB program in those beautiful mountains. This picture was taken in the Garhwal Himalaya region which Avinash was checking out for a camp.

Now that would be pretty sweet to spend some time with this great educator in this amazing mountain range.

February 12, 2008

High profile rescue in the White Mountains

Franconia Ridge
Originally uploaded by hoverpuma
Saw this today in the Concord Monitor and later my friend Niles emailed a report to me.

Looks like two hikers were up on the Franconia Ridge without heavy winter gear or overnight kit. Twenty four rescuers and a Blackhawk helicopter from the Army National Guard were involved. One hiker, the more experienced of the two, didn't survive the incident.

Here is the Monitor article, and here is the more detailed Forest Service report.

Col. Jeffrey Gray, Chief of Law Enforcement at Fish and Game is quoted as saying,

"Winter hikers should not hesitate to turn back or postpone outings when severe weather is predicted or encountered. Even the best of clothing and equipment may be no match for the severe winter weather often encountered in New Hampshire's White Mountains!"

I've hiked by that spot at least a dozen times, it's scary to think about what it was like up there the last few nights. When I read the article I was reminded of the hundreds of calls I've made as a winter hiker, to continue or to turn back. To bring a certain piece of equipment or not. Then I was reminded of the calls I've made as a trip leader for other people. It's pretty real up there this time of year. My heart goes out to the families of the hikers.

Update 2/13: NECN has video of their coverage here.

Update 2/28: Another rescue took place in the same spot over the weekend. This one had a happier ending. I wonder if this is a usual amount of traffic for this time of year?

February 8, 2008

A four prong approach

Here are a few things I've learned the hard way and had confirmed through Wikifest and recent work with colleagues here at school. You could call them the four prongs of EL social networking.

I. If it's not free, don't use it - Web tools should be free. If someone wants you to pay for something, chances are someone else is already developing a tool that does it better and costs less. You're going to have enough trouble explaining blogging to people, you don't want to explain that it also costs money.

II. Never program html - If you find yourself needing to do html programming then something is wrong. All good services these days have interfaces that let you get around this pesky business.

III. Browser based is the way to go - If you think you need to download something (other than, say a free browser that works better than something you have to pay for (see I. above)), then think again or find another service.

IV. Count your hits - A big way to justify your time is to demonstrate the ROI. An easy way to do this is to show how many people are reading what you write.

V. Know why you're doing it - The biggest pitfalls I see people fall into is when they don't know why they are using a particular tool, or they don't know what their goals are. Start out by jotting down a few goals before you decide on a particular tool. This could be as simple as: networking, promoting our program, getting kids to sign up for camp etc.

I think if I had four points to get across those would be them. Good luck fellow outdoor tech nerds! I've also got some other thoughts posted here and here and to a lesser degree here.

AEE Regional Conference Workshop!

I just heard today that my workshop proposal for the AEE regional conference this April was accepted!

Here's the workshop blurb:

Blog It – How Free Web Tools Changed Our Program
For the past three years New Hampton School has used blogs to keep thousands of people engaged with our programs resulting in contributions to our annual fund and in parents hiking cookies into the field. This workshop will share best practices from NHS’s urban program, and teach participants how to start blogging. If you can use email and want better outcomes from your participants or want a low cost way to share your program with the world this workshop is for you.

I've never presented at an AEE conference so I'm pretty excited to share what we're doing with my peers. I'll keep you posted as we get closer!

February 5, 2008

If I don't post again send out the rescue dogs

I think we're getting buried in! This pictures is from my office looking out the window. Pretty impressive even though this is largely from snow sliding off the roof. If it keeps on like this I'll have to shovel myself out.

I was up on the mountain a few days ago before this snow and really enjoyed getting up. I'm making some changes in my job description here at the school, mostly shedding the summer program directorship, to allow myself more time to focus on experiential learning. My major focus for 2008-9 will be Burleigh!

Our snow cave from a few weeks ago fell in when we had that warm weather and rain.

Woodpeckers have been active on this pine tree, must be termites inside.

The yurts shed their snow too, looking good, although the lower yurt will need a new stove pipe. I think I'll pull the one out of the A-frame and bring it down.

I hiked up to the summit and then sledded down - scary good! This isn't what I looked like when I crashed on the bottom! Just loafing around on the summit.

February 1, 2008

Skyping into European wiki conversation

Noelle and I are going to video conference during a meeting of Outward Bound International in Europe. I'm going to try and screen capture the call - we'll be talking about using social networks as curriculum elements and also Wikifest.

Update: This didn't work that well due to slow internet connection and the conference attendees heading home. But I chatted with Noelle after and it sounds like there are some good opportunities and interest with Outward Bound Germany to work together. I'm particularly interested in this since I worked with OB Germany at the start of my career and we also have quite a lot of German students attending NHS next year.

In case anyone is reading this from there - Hi folks, sorry I missed you! I look forward to working together!

January 30, 2008

Independent School Adventure Network

Becca just turned me on to a new group that might be interesting for folks in independent schools called the Independent School Adventure Network! They are a group of folks affiliated with the AEE who are looking at topics and issues specific to independent schools.

It looks like the site is still in development as some of the links seem to be broken. When it is fully functional the site looks like it will contain some interesting resources.

Their annual conference also looks like it's worth checking out.

Should we use social networking?

A question that I've been asked a couple of times since Wikifest was how did Burleigh specifically and adventure ed at NHS in general get started with blogging. This led me to the question of how in general other programs should think about and decide if they are going to engage with social networking.

Burleigh Mountain is located quite close to our campus but might as well be a world away. It has a remote, quiet, isolated and wilderness feel to it. After my first few years of working there I found that people came to love the mountain once they knew it. On the other hand if they hadn't been there they had no idea what it was all about.

I wonder if other programs are having this dialog too? Here's some things to think about when making a decision about engaging with social media that came out of the Wikifest.

  • Understand the current reality - get to know some of the tools available, how they work and the cost of getting involved (time and money).
  • Understand attributes of successful networks - here are some attributes of successful networks, does your program have them? If not, social networking might not be for you. I could write a lot about each of these, but for now I'll just bullet them.
      • Strong existing social ties
      • Common story
      • Communications grid
      • Shared resources
      • Clarity of purpose
  • Understand your goals - what do you want to see come out of your engagement? How will you evaluate success, and justify the time and potentially money you are spending?
  • Conduct a risk assessment - is their a cost to not engaging? Are all of your competitors already engaged? Perhaps participants are already engaged on your behalf? Are active detractors giving you a bad name? Have you lost control of your message in this area?
We're trying to engage with social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn for an immediate short term goal of staffing the Sophomore Expedition with our outside instructors. We'll see how that works.

January 24, 2008

Ahh the irony

The New Hampton website just ran an article about Wikifest. They point out the irony of going half way around the world to connect with people online. Kind of funny when you think about it.

Trends for EL programs to think about

After Wikifest all I could do was to outline things I wanted to think about and then try to recover from jet lag and deal with getting sick from re-entry into New England weather. (Actually it turns out that about half the conference attendees have come down with something, maybe I'm the vector for the next Asian flu virus to kick the butt out of the east coast?)

Now I'm ready to actually think about things! First of all I want to echo something I first posted about when I was noticing the proliferation of adventure programs on Facebook and the like. It was a post from 2005 regarding blogging events. The article talks about how blogging is a good way for non-profits to spread the word regarding an event. The reverse is also true: if you are a blogger attending a conference and post during the event it's a great way to spread the word about your blog.

Here are some trends that EL programs need to spend some time thinking about and my thoughts and reccomendations:

  • Massive publishing - Web publishing is free, easy and growing rapidly. In addition 'official' sources no longer dominate the market. So our future participants can find out as much about our programs from our past participants, our fans and our detractors as from us. My thoughts: get on board, start small, pick an area you are comfortable with and see what it can do for you. If a blog is too much, join a couple of Facebook groups in your industry. Leverage the network in a small way at first and see what happens.
  • Effective filtering - Growing in accordance with massive publishing are effective tools for finding and filtering the information we want. How we filter our information could be as important as the quality of the information itself. My thoughts: check out rss feeds, subscribe to some feeds that you like and see how it affects what you hear about and learn about.
  • Free communication - Yesterday I connected (for free) with colleagues in Romania, Indonesia and Colorado. I needed pictures for an article I was writing and within 24 hours I had some from a colleague in Hong Kong. My thoughts: start a Skype or AIM account and publish your address to your staff or participants, see what happens. Also, I found that leaving my Skype turned on during the day was helpful for people to message me as long as I let go of my need to respond right away, check and respond tops 2-3 times a day.
  • Early adoption stage - Adventure programs are still in the early adoption stage with this good stuff. Many of us have just added websites to our tool kit, and many staff don't see the connection and benefit of technology to what we do. My thoughts: start small, leverage the network and see what the result is, if you have a success share that with others.