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I Can See the Light at the End of the Tunnel

Thats right, I am told there is only four weeks remaining of my undergraduate degree at Messiah College. I said I have been told this because I am not looking forward to my time here ending, so I have definitely not been counting down the days. I am truely going to miss Messiah for some solid reasons, however it will ease my desire knowing the academic work would continue if I stayed here. The academic workload this semester had been ourageous. For you other soon to be college seniors out there reading this, dont worry, it is not normally like this. Most of my other friend have very easy semesters which make life to be very easy going and enjoyable. The two classes that are taking of a ton of time are Senior Seminar and Trip Implementation and Evaluation. Trip class has a lot of group work that takes hours on end. Senior Seminar has been requiring a ton of reading, long journals, and a large portfolio paper. I am working to get on top of things rather than falling behind like right after the spring break week.

The last time I posted was before Messiah’s Spring Break. I was one out of three leaders on a wilderness spring break trip that I led down to Georgia that consisted of backpacking and caving. I am not going to go into too much detail about the trip due to a time constraint, however I will explain to most interesting parts. We had 12 people in our group including the three leaders. We caved five different times in a total of four caves. There were two caves with miles and miles of passageway that we were no where near finishing exploring. Anderson Spring Cave was the most decorated cave with mind blowing pristine formations compared to any cave in PA that I know of. It was a wet cave, so we hard to dress with lots of clothing due to the need to crawl through water on our hands and knees. Another cave was called Ellison Cave that we went in on two different entrances two different times. This cave is famous to most cavers because of its vertical caving rappelling and ascending. It has a beautiful 585 foot straight drop on one side, then a 424 foot pit on the other end of the cave over 2 miles away. One the last day we rappelled a 60 foot stair step pit with waterfall right next to us which was really neat. It really took a long time with all 12 people, however everyone was safe and we ran into no problems. We entered Petty Johns cave that was very well used, however was quite large in size compared to anything in PA. It was very amazing, however we were able to finally find our way around inside of it. We entered Atwood point talus cave which was a small cave formed by rocks shifting, not water eroding the rock like all the other caves we entered.

The backpacking went really well, however our packs were very heavy due to our muddy/wet cover alls and caving shoes. We would normally wake around 9am and go to bed about midnight. The campsites we stayed at were generally nice, however we did camp next to a dirt road for two nights which was kind of annoying for some participants. We past two great views at the top of the mountain on the way which provided for a relaxing break from the heavy backpacks. Spiritually we concentrated on asking for help as men, and sharing our thoughts as men. Since it was an all male trip, it provided us the appropriate environment to talk about all male issues. At one point we had to take one of our leaders to the hospital due to a chronic sickness he quickly fell into one evening, but he was luckily back in the field the next evening.

The next weekend I went down to Radford, Virginia for a conference required for my senior seminar class put on by the Association for Experimental Education. At the conference we were able to go to sessions where they talked about different types of leadership, networking in the field, and activities to use in the wilderness. The highlights of the weekend were learning how to stand up paddle board and river surfing with them. I also went caving once with an organized group and we went again to the same cave the next evening with just a couple students from Messiah and got to see a lot more of the cave.

The weekend after that, it was time to race! It was the third time the Outdoors Club went down to the Tuckaseegee River for the American Canoe Association Collegiate National canoe and kayak race. We brought ten students from Messiah all the way down to North Carolina. At the race your were allowed to race twice in any catagory. Either tandem canoe, solo canoe, and solo kayak. I raced solo canoe and tandem canoe on saturday and got 5th out of 30 on the tandem canoe race. On Saturday after the race, the canoers went to an after race party at the Nantahala Outdoors Centerwhich was right on the river that has a man made surf wave that is world class. There was also a class 3/4 wave called the Nantahala falls that some of us ran multiple times for fun. After the paddle that ended after sun down, we had lots of pizza and got to watch a sweet paddle film festival of awesome paddle videos. On Sunday it was time for the team relay, Messiah finished 3rd out of nine. There were four legs, two tandem canoe, and two kayak sections. Overall Messiah won the award for 3rd place, however we really got fourth due to a later discovered scoring error. The race and camping was a good time, it was too bad for the poor and slow scoring calculations. Overall, the Outdoors Club subsidized the cost to only 20 dollars a person even though it would normally cost over 50 dollars a person. Thats all I have at this point, next I plan to write about my four years in review at Messiah.

aca, spring break, aee,

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Whats up at Messiah?

As predicted, this semester is flying by. The major contributor to this illusion is a class that I am required to take called, Trip Implementation and Evaluation. The class is the sequel to Programming and Trip Design that I was required to take last semester. The main assignment for this class is to lead a wilderness camping trip over spring break. This is a three of 400 level class so only upper classmen can take it because it utilizes every skills that you learned throughout the years. Last week and this week have been extremely busy with organizing logistical issues pertaining to driving down and making sure participants are adequately prepared for the trip with their clothing options. At this point our group is well ahead of the game because all participants have their money in, all of our food has been packed and vertical practice is complete. All we are doing at this point is getting our lesson plans in line.

We needed to host vertical practice because we are hoping to do a 125 foot rappel and ascent in a cave. Since both of these activities have critical consequences if done improperly, from a risk management perspective, we felt we needed to congregate everyone together before the trip to teach them the skills they are going to need to make it possible and safe. In order for our teaching to be most effective, we needed a time a night because most people would be available. Being dark and cold outside, it really limited us to find an inside, lit area. We decided to host the practice in the gym which required us to contact multiple staff members to make sure it is okay, which it was. We started off with rappelling off the indoor track onto the gym floor below. This gave us about a 15 foot drop to practice rappelling and belaying the person on rope. Secondly we taught them the frog ascension system. It seemed everyone had a bit of trouble starting off because rather odd movements are required. We had the rope rapped around a steal beam at the rope of the gym, so I was connected to the other end of the rope, so as the person ascended rope, I would let rope out so it would act as a rope treadmill. Overall, participants got to ascend about 30-60 feet depending how long they wanted to continue.

So moving into some activities other than academics in the past couple weeks. Two weekends ago we planned a caving trip with adventure ed majors who were interested. This cave we were plannig to explore was a fairly large cave in terms of area, however it is full of tight passageways. This cave was not for someone who is claustrophobic. When we got to the cave, Hershey Coy, we entered and found out that it was sumped out. We then came up with a quick plan B and drove south to another cave about ten minutes down the road. That cave seemed to be much more rewarding due to the large passageways and challenging aspects. We all climbed up this shaft called the stairway to heaven that overlooked a 40 drop down to a room. We carefully decended down that steep limestone to the base of the drop. This cave is somehwhat unexplored so it was really neat to see many of the pristine cave formations still in tact.

The outdoors club hosted the most successful roll session yet. Every person but one was able to roll their kayak by the end of the night. This was robins second roll session of the year and she got the roll within ten minutes. Later in the night she was successful with two hand roll which is rolling the kayak without a paddle! The hand roll is not that hard as long as you have a good hip snap.

On Monday, I went kayaking on Susquehanna river (susky) with a couple guys. We put in at Dauphin and paddled to river right to the 10000 dollar wave and hit it up for about 20 minutes. The water was also up about two feet that day, so it was quite exciting! The water was still very cold even though the outside temperature was about 5o degree in partly cloudy. I made the mistake to only wear a splash top, not my wet suite, so I was a little cold while paddling.

This past weekend I had to opportunity to go off roading with my friend Dave. We went out to boiling springs, and mt. holly springs. It was really a great day that was challenging for the both of our vehicles. Dave got stuck one and so did I. We took some video and pictures along the way, so I made a quick 30 minute video about it which is now on facebook. The next day I went down to vertical practice with stitch to shaffers rock in chambersburg PA. We practiced haul systems that would assist those of our participants who could not ascend the full 125 feet. Luckily our book reading and time spent picturing in our heads what the haul system was going to look like paid off. I also ran the codorus creek with my friend Ben. This time I was smart enough to wear my wet suite because I knew I would We left early in the morning on saturday and made sure to get back just after noon. It was kind of a last minute decision to go because the water was about a foot higher than normal which is really ideal of kayaking that creek. We found some great surf waves and ran the rapid called upper D twice because it was really adrenalin rushing.

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Ready, Set, Go!

Yes, the spring semester is well on its way with its warm days and large academic work load. It turns out that the majority of my classes are on Tuesday. I only have one class on MWF so I am able to have time to paddle when it gets warmer. All week I have 8am and 9am classes which is really hurting me. I am going to make it a goal to get eight hours of sleep for the rest of the semester and with Gods help, I think I can do it. Honestly, the academic work load has not really been too bad except for both of my Adventure Education classes. The majority of the time I have been preparing for graduate school by taking the GRE test, applying to grad schools and updating my resume. Robin has been very helpful with looking up all the information pertaining to graduate school because she seems to have more time than be and is better at that type of thing. Without her helping me, im not sure where I would be in the application process.

Anyway, now to the exciting stuff like kayaking and Jubilee. The first weekend being back at Messiah was a blessing and a curse at the same time. My room mate owns a PS3 and the game Call of Duty which he plays often with lots of other guys from my apartment and the surrounding apartments. For one year I have resisted the temptation to play because I thought I might get addicted; finally I gave in. The first one or two times I played I did not enjoy it that much, however now I cannot get it off my mind. It is what I am excited for when I go back to the aparment. I do regulate myself quite well and only play it when I have time usually. I just hope I do not go out and buy a PS3 after I graduate haha. On the same weekend on Saturday I went kayaking on the Codorus creek with a few kayakers. It was a cold over cast day and the water level was only about 2.5 feet which is normal. There were some great surfing waves on the creek which made it worth the run. I was never cold either because I wore my wet suite that I brought in New Zealand two years ago. In the beginning on a flat water section, caught up in an eddy, I found this door shaped peice of foam. I thought it was be cool to get my kayak on top of it and float down the river, so that is just what I did. I called it the “party barge”! I thought about going down the first rapid on it, however it could have been dangerous and maybe not that fun. I would have like to pack out that trash, but there is just so much on the banks of that creek. It runs right through the city of York, so it is heavily polluted

Saturday evening I could have lead a caving trip, however I really wanted to attend the event called “99 Nights” that Messiah put on for all seniors. 99 Nights signified 99 nights until graduation! It was also a fundraising event where student could donate to the senior class gift. I really enjoyed that night because they had volleyball, basketball and ice cream! Unfortunately I went out to dinner with my friends right before, so I was not hungry for ice cream.

This past weekend I was all the way out in western PA at a Christian conference called Jubilee. The LOFT team was going out so they invited anyone else who wanted to get a free ride out there. Jubilee is a gathering with around 3000 brothers and sisters of christ and there are many workshops that were offered. There were also times for everyone to gather in the conference center where we sang praise songs and listened to sermons. I was able to see a movie called, “like blue jazz” which was based on a christian who strayed away from the word in college but then found his way back at the very end of the movie. Overall I had a very enjoyable time being in fellowship with the LOFT team. I was on the team last year, but I decided to step down this year to warrant for more free time. One thing I have learned at Messiah was that there are so many things a person is able to get involved with, but you just have to say no to some things in order for you to live a sane life and not fail college. After all, the academic degree is why you are at school.

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J-term Adventures!!!!

January Term for me, although I was at home for the majority, I was blessed to travel and take part in really great experiences.

It started up with a trip up to North Conway, New Hampshire. This is a fairly touristy area due to the white mountain range which includes that famous Mount Washington. There are many ways to get to the summit of the 6,260 foot mountain. You can take a train, your car, hike, or some other obscure methods. During the time period we were up there, the road and rail road were closed, so hiking was the only method. Our objective however was not to summit the mountain, but utilize its resources like ice and deep snow drifts and steep inclines to complete a basic mountaineering course.

During this course we learned many things including how to set up a crevasse rescue system to rescue a person on our rope team if he were to fall into a deep crack in a glacier. This was a very complicated and somewhat slow process because you need to drive in snow anchors to in order to stop the victim from falling further down the crevasse. After the anchors are in, you are needed to set up a pulley system depending on how much rope you have and how heavy your victim is. On the same day we also learned how to self rescue ourself if we were the victim that had fallen into the crevasse strategically using prusik knots and slings.

Later in the week we learned how to make a snow anchor out of snow, with a ice axe and snow pickets. We spent a good amount of time learning about different ways to walk up steep slopes with cramp-ons. We also learned how to walk in a rope team while going up a steep slope. We learned how to self arrest which mean how to stop yourself from sliding down a hill using your ice axe. We got the opportunity to try out how avalanche beacons work and practiced finding victims. We learned a bit about snow pack and what kind of snow causes an avalanche. Two other days were did ice climbing on some local ice formations. Unfortunately our selection was limited because just the week before we went up, it was 50° so the ice only had one week to fill in. We had one day off which we took to climb a close mountain and rappel back down.

After the NH adventure, I was back at home, but getting tired of doing work. I decided I needed to take a visit back to Messiah because I missed it so much. Before I left for school I made sure I packed as many things into that weekend as possible. On Friday night I assisted the LOFT team with a cave facilitation for the women’s soccer team. On Saturday I went kayaking for a little while at Spanglers Mill dam in camp hill. Saturday night I facilitated another caving trip for the Outdoors Club to Carnegie cave in shippensburg. The cave ended up being very wet to the point where we could not get to the majority of the cave because it was sumped out with water. So we explore the small portion of cave that we were able to then left carnegie and went to find the cleversburg den caves. The den caves were most likely connected to the huge cave systems, Cleversburg Sink, which was only a little deeper underground. These caves only push for about 30 feet then stop. There were four of then which we did find, however people were getting too cold to continue, so we decided it was time to head back to Messiah.

On Sunday the Outdoors Club had planned a roll session, so I made sure I was there to assist with teaching the students how to roll a kayak. Robin came with me to this one, however she was not really getting the roll. There is another roll session on the 12th, so hopefully Robin will get it then. Monday was Martin Luther Kind JR. day, so I was assigned to take photos at all the service locations in Harrisburg. It was neat to see all the people who came out to help serve on such a memorable day. That was about it for that weekend, so it was time to go home to pack for the cruise.

My parents were originally going on vacation in January to a time share somewhere around NJ, however when I told them I was not taking a J-term, they started brainstorming again. They suggested a cruise in the Caribbean with my girl friend Robin. I was very excited when my mother told me to look up different cruise options because I knew it would be a really fun time with Robin. Ever since I got back from my study abroad experience in New Zealand, I have been more aware of others I the world and how I spend my money. Something like a cruise that costs a significant chunk of change made me think about it. The money was spent purely on leisure fun. When money like that is spent, I cant help but think of others who are less fortunate than I like in 3rd world countries or even the kid down the street whose parents who can barely pay the heating bill. I know I was raised from a Republican background and learned how to save money, but I would really like to revert to donating a lot of my money to those more needy than I. I have been brainstorming multiple ways to use my skills to donate things, but I have not come up with a solid idea yet. After I get a sufficient job, I will be able to explore other side business that I could manage that could bring in revenue.

Anyway, since I am in that middle ground between strong conservative background and liberal activist, I went on the cruise. It was a great way for me to spend time with my parents, which I really never due at home. Our cruise port was in Miami, Florida meaning it was a trip in itself to get to the cruise ship. We ended up driving down because it was more cost effective. It was a seven day cruise that stopped at four ports; Grand Stirrup Cay, Ocho Rios, Grand Caymen and Cozumel. We all came equipped with snorkeling equipment because we were thinking that would be our main activity on each island knowing the water was so warm and clear. The first island we stopped at was that of Norwegian Cruise Lines. They were constructing new buildings on the island and making a moat through the middle of the island. It was a really neat plan, it is too bad we had to see it in the middle of construction. The snorkeling was not very good, but it was a good place to get introduced to it. The next destination was Jamaica where there was not a man on the street that did not try to hustle his service to you. When there are three cruise ships that pull into port then leave again at 4pm, you can imagine how many people see this as a grand opportunity to make money from all the “rich” people who can afford a cruise. We were finally able to bargain with a cab driver to take us to Dunns River falls where we snorkeled on the beach, then climbed the falls. It was really neat to climb the falls because it was dangerous and they didnt have any rules against it! There is no way you would be allowed to make that a public attraction but still let people walk in it in America. After the falls, we found a beach to go snorkeling. When we got to the beach of course we were swarmed with people wanting us to go on their boat so they could take us to the reefs, but we didnt want to spend any more money. After the solicitors found other people to go snorkeling, we saw the boat embark while Robin and I were already in the water. Then we saw the snorkel boat stop only about 500 feet from the beach, so we swam over to it and checked out the reef. It was quite a swim and we were getting cold, so we decided to head back to the beach. We did some shopping in the market where I learned never to go again unless you want to get hustled into buying the exact same thing in every single shop.

Grand Cayman, although just 100 miles away from Jamaica, was a completely different environment. It was so pleasant looking with no one trying to entice you into buying something. It was definitely the best place for snorkeling. It was the warmest place out of the first two and there were two ship wrecks that we were able to snorkel around and through. There were some great looking reefs with a good amount of colorful fish. There were supposedly aqua caves out further into the ocean, however I did not have scuba gear, nor did we have enough time to swim far enough out to see where they were. The final port, Mexico, may have had good snorkel reefs, but we didnt find it because there were jelly fish stinging us consistently for the ten minutes we tried. Luckily that was the island we had planned to go on an ATV tour and visit some Mayan Caves and a sink hole. I made sure I brought my caving head lamp just for the caves we were going to visit. After the ATV tour, I decided to rent a scooter for the day. I have always wanted to rent a scooter to ride around and see all the sites, unfortunately it was poring and we did not have enough time. I am glad I have ridden a scooter before because driving on the same road with other central america drivers in the rain with a person on the back, was quite crazy!

On the ship while we were cruising, I had a good time playing dodgeball, soccer, rock climbing, waisting 5 bucks in the casino, and bowling. There were many entertaining game shows in the evening that were rated for adults for sure, but were really funny. I was able to enjoy the two salt water pools on deck along with the four fresh water hot tubs. I really enjoyed the food the entire trip. It opened my eyes to make me realize how good buffet food can be. It made me shriek when I had to start eating lottie food again. Before the cruise, I was really a fan of Lottie Nelson Dinging Hall, but now, I am not so sure. We ended up back in Miami without our captain jumping off the boat or running into ground. Then it was a long drive back to Messiah so Robin could get back to work and I could go to school. Thanks for reading.

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Masters Degree!!:))))((((??

For those who are unaware, J term, short for January term is the month of January nicknamed to represent a month where Messiah students take one course for four hours every day for the entire month. I have taken two J term courses this throughout my four years at Messiah. I did not take one this semester because they did not have any classes offered that I was required, or even interested in taking. Instead of taking a class, I filled my time with experiences, some more exciting than others. I knew I needed to looking into graduate schools, create a resume, and do a few things around the house. I made the quick yet firm decision that I want to apply for grad. school for only a couple reasons. First and more importantly, being an only child, I have been extremely blessed, others would say spolied with the opportunities that I have had the chance to experience. Traveling to alaska and puerto rico with the boy scouts, Hawaii and New Zealand with Messiah College and Nicaragua with church mission trips all have been so beneficial in my spiritual life and just knowledge of other ways of life. All in all, thinking into the future, I want my children to be able to have the joy from experiencing this large range of things just like I have been able to. So by going to graduate school, I will be making more money to support my childrens needs.

Experiencing these cross cultural escapedes has alerted me of just how fortunate I am compared to some 3rd world countries around the world. Because I recgonize that we need so little to survive after seeing how much other less fortunate people use, it has given me the urge to give back. Trust in God that he will provide. While in New Zealand our professor introduced an interesting philosophy of giving. He believed we should “give until it hurts”. Now coming from a very conservative republican family, who was build on saving money, this idea of giving money away was radical. Titheing was something in church, but to give until it hurts is going much further. What I took away from my teachers message was that I need to trust in God that he will provide. By going to school for two more years to make at least 10,000 more each year, I think it is worth it.

Lastly I realize that at my age, my father decided he wanted to attend grad. school, and now as a role model in my life, he too would be very proud if I went through graduate school.

Unfortunately while I was researching grad. schools, my Macbook Pro decided to break down. Basically perfect timing of the the closing of the computer lid froze up the mother board and broke it. Luckily Mac has a flat rate repair fee which saved me a few hundred dollars.

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Last week of my last fall semester at Messiah

It is scary to think I will only have one more semester here at Messiah College. Ever since I began my senior year at here, everyone seems to ask me to questions, how do you feel about leaving and what are your plans for after you graduate? The answers to these questions often change from person to person as my desires are on the fence. When people ask me if I want to be a Messiah anymore, I most often say I am ready to move on, but I also really like the Outdoors Club here at school. I was thinking is that really the only reason why I will miss Messiah? I realized that I will miss other things that are also important to me like friends, food, medical center, post office, campus store, college press, rec sports, free weight room, use of schools vehicles and of course constant spiritual integration. Most of these things will be much harder if not impossible to achieve anymore just because of all the costs that will be involved since our tuition does not pay for all of these memberships after we graduate. I fear the loneliness of suddenly not being surrounded constantly with your friends like many graduated college students can confirm. I am hoping since I was an only child, that I will not have a problem with the possibility of living alone and starting a new job in an unfamiliar environment.

What are my plan after I graduate?? I have thought about going to graduate school to attain my masters degree, I have thought about going straight into the work field of criminal justice and I have thought about taking some time to travel to New Zealand for an upwards of 3 months. My parents strongly suggest that I go to graduate school which I respect and can see how it can have some benefits. I recognize that being in the police field, having certain degrees of education can alter your salary significantly yearly. I have found that money is a gift from God and he will provide with our needs. I have noticed his loving graciousness towards me and I feel I may be able to share that love with other people, specifically non chrisitians. All to say that I feel getting a better education will equip me better to have the funds necessary to make a difference in others lives. I am not sure if I plan to just donate money, food, tithe greatly in church, or actually travel abroad to share Gods love. My hesitation to apply to grad school is that I will probably be away from my girl friend Robin who is now in the middle of another hiring process, so it would be unfair for me to leave her since she moved up here just to be near me. I also am unsure that I will be able to attain a high enough score to apply to certain schools. With all that said, I still have a few months to figure it out.

This past weekend was some what exciting. I only attended one outdoors club trip where I lead a caving trip to a cave south of shippensburg. We actually planned to go into two caves where each entrance was only 20 feet apart. One of the caves called the Frustration Pit I had been in three weeks earlier. I previously posted about this cave in my last blog post. I found the cave to be so beautiful that I wanted to lead a trip there even though the cave was slightly further than we really wanted to travel. The cave that was right next to the Frustration Pit was called Corker Hill cave. This cave was more commonly visited out of the two because it was easier to access. With only a class 4 scramble for about 10 feet, it was not as bad as the Frustration Pit. Only recently was the Frustration Pit made easier to access because another entrance was dug compared to the typical 20 foot straight drop.

As a part of the plan, we would enter the Frustration Pit first with the group simply because I was familiar with it so I could lead the group more smoothly. We navigated through the cave without trouble until we ran into some water that was not there the last time I was in that cave. Unfortunately it was blocking off some very pristine areas of the cave, so we had to avoid that area and continue on. We were out of the Frustration Pit in two hours then it was time to enter the new cave, Corker Hill. We brought along some extra gear for this cave including a ladder, webbing, carabiners, and a 20M static line. After rigging the ladder, I made sure it was safe by climbing down it while watching where my webbing was rubbing and if there was any force on the carabiner gates. After decending into the cave with the group, we were using the incomplete map to navigate further which was somewhat confusing for five minutes. The cave continued to slope downward at a 35° angle in the mud. I knew that leading a beginner group into a cave such as this would require some assistance getting back up the muddy slope. So I simply found a rock that was sturdy and rigged a hand line with a bowline tie off at the top that ran 20M down the cave to the bottom of the muddy slide. As I was descending the slope I noticed how muddy the rope was getting so I decided we would need to tie knots to act as handles for even muddy hands to grab onto. As soon as the slope started to decrease, the room opened to 30 feet wide and 10 feet high. There was two bats that we had seen so far, one was flying around while the other was still sound asleep. Then as we moved into the cave we reached another room that was 30 feet high but maybe ten feet wide. There was a passageway that climbed to the top of the roof called the, “stairway to heaven”. It was a squeeze getting into, then a climb at a steep angle to the top. It might be a good place for a rappel. Then quickly I realized it was time for us to start heading out in order to return to Messiah on time. It took a little while for some people to ascend the muddy slope with only a hand line, but luckily everyone made it safely.

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It is Almost Thanksgiving!

In just two days I will be headed home to enjoy a feast with the family and a break from the academics! Well, I might have some studying to do over break, but luckily nothing is due shortly after I return. My family plans to go down south to the Virginia area to visit some relatives for a few days, then return to home for the rest of Thanksgiving break. Unfortunately since Robin now has a real job, she only has Thanksgiving day off, so she is unable to go to Virginia with us.

Two weekend ago I was heavily involved with the Outdoors Club trips that were planned. I was fortunate enough to go on three of them that include kayaking on the yellow breeches, caving in carnegie cave, and a wilderness photography trip. I was the specialist for both the caving and the photography trip, so that means I was the main facilitator who was in charge of planning the activity and leading the group. Normally there is a trip leader that is also present on all Outdoors Club trips and there job is getting all the logistical data in line with participants and the trip specialists.

The kayaking trip was at 1pm and it was planned to start at high street, just up stream of the covered bridge, then flow down to simpson park. It was a chilly day with about 7 participants who were somewhat adiquitlley prepared with the appropriate clothing. High street is a tricky place to put people in the water because you have to get in the boat, then slide the boat in down a three foot drop. For someone who has never been kayaking before, there is about a 50% change you will flip over as soon as you hit the water. Two people tipped right there; one was mildly hypothermic and the other was fine because he wore polyester material rather than cotton. A prime example of why cotton is evil when wet! After the student changed into dry clothes, with some hesitation of tipping again, he went on with us as we coaxed him closer to simpson park. Luckily, there were no more flipped boats for the remainder of the run.

Only an hour and a half after I got out of my kayak, I had to lead a trip in a cave. We had nine people go caving in Carnegie. As we go in the cave, I lead the group to the left to the squeeze area where I soon found out it was going to be a wet caving experience. Anytime bird run is flowing, things are going to be fairly wet in the cave. The water was so high, we could not even go through one of the squeezes, or else you would be up to your neck. When we got to the middle of the cave, it became obvious that everyone needed to get their feet wet because we needed to cross a flooded room to get to the rest of the cave. Participants were all in good spirits about it and were able to keep their upper bodys warm. After exploring around trying other various squeezes, it was time to head back in order for us to get back to college and clean all the gear before midnight.

The wilderness photography trip was something I had been wanting to lead for a long time. We had to cancel the trip two weeks prior because of the lack of people who signed up. Finally we had five people who were interested; one of them being Robin. We decided to go to the Williams Grove Amusement Park that is not not in service anymore, then to holly springs reserve where there is a large marshy area with many colorful fall leaves, and lastly to pine grove furnace and loral lake to catch the sunset. We got some nice shots of the wilderness throughout the day and learned a bit about photography techniques.

This past weekend I went caving a lot! On Friday night I planned a double date with Robin and my other two friends to find two caves that were located in Carlisle. It was exciting because we were only using descriptions and coordinated to locate these caves at night. We found the first cave with signs posted out front saying, “no trespassing in cave.” We decided since we were legit cavers not out to spray paint anything like some people had done previously, that we were okay to go in. It had a very muddy entrance, but eventually got drier and lower until the cave suddenly ended. At the end of the cave, there was a part where people had been digging in the group hoping to find more of the cave. This cave has had some tests done on it concluding that it extends until he entire town of Carlisle, however the tests may only prove that there are some pathways under ground, not necessarily big enough for a human to fit through. After that cave we went off to explore another one. We were about to give up the next one because we were not seeing signs of it and it may have been in the backyard of someones house. I decided to go ahead a little further then turn around if I didnt find it. Behind a large strainer of sticks formed from the river flooding, I found the cave entrance! The cave was not big at all, maybe 6 feet tall at the highest point and 15 feet wide. The amazing thing about this cave was the formations. Until about 60 years ago, this cave was growing underground with beautiful formations, but suddenly the thin ground layer broke through so it was exposed to the weather which cause the cave to stop growing. It was still neat imagining what it would look like if it were still growing.

On saturday I volunteered to help survey a cave because developers were planning to buy the land that they were on. It was our job to survey the cave to see if it was worth it to buy that plot of land so we could reserve the cave. I had never done any surveying before, but it was something I had been really wanting to learn. We used a 50ft measuring tape, two surveying compasses that measures degrees and inclination. At each survey mark we had to measure angle, inclination, left, right, up, down. This was a very slow process because each time we had a new station, we had to have a person on each end of the tape get the same numbers just to make sure we were being accurate. Because I was a first time surveyor, I was not extremely accurate with the instruments so we had to measure multiple times. Amongst the surveying, I was able to explore some really great looking cave! This cave was not well known and well respected to whoever knew about it mainly because the access was so difficult. Only until 20 years ago was there a crawl in entrance. Previously it was 20ft skinny drop that you could not even fit through. By meditated digging, cavers were able to find larger entrances close to the surface that made it easier for people to access the cave. I had never seen formations in a cave like I did in here. I had to be very careful maneuvering throughout the cave because everything was so fragile. In six hours, we only got about half of the cave done, so we hope to come back at some point to finish the rest of the surveying. Unfortunately the cave is about an hour away, so im not sure we would be able to take the Outdoors Club.

On Sunday, after church and lottie lunch, I decided to go look for a cave that was described to be only a mile away from campus. The last information attainted for the cave was in 1959 and I heard it had been covered over or filled in after that point. I was unsuccessful in finding it after looking for about a half an hour. I had looked for that cave during my sophomore year, but did not find it then either, so I am now concluding now it was definitely filled in.

Finally I ended the weekend with a kayak skills training session in a local indoor pool put on by the Outdoors Club. We had ten people show up, five of which were instructors while the other five were people who wanted to learn how to roll. At the end of the night, two of the females could roll and one of the males got it down. The pool is really a great place to practice the kayak roll because there is no current, it is warm and the water is clear. I learned how to roll during a poll session my freshman year and now I help instructing others on how to roll.

Thanks for reading, tune in for updates about thanksgiving break.

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1/4 Completed Senior Year!

For those of you are new to reading my blog; this blog is mainly about how Messiah College has provided me with an exciting weekend life and some detail of academic stresses involved.

Earlier in October I was selected to assist facilitating the caving classes trip to West Virginia on a weekend. There the students would explore larger caves than in Pennsylvania, practice a mock cave rescue, and practice leading a group through the cave. There were already two students who were actually enrolled in teaching the class and one professor so I was just there to assist in facilitating the large group. West Virginia is know as “swiss cheese” to the caving community, can you guess why??  West Virginia happens to have the perfect landscape and historical rock formations to make caves all over the entire state. We were able to visit 4 caves that weekend and only had to drive 7 minutes back to our campground each night. We visited New Trout, Hamilton twice, and this other cave we saw in an abandoned quarry on our way back to camp. New Trout cave was extremely dusky as you can see from all the dust that has accumulated on our face from the picture. On Sunday we had set for the class to perform a rescue in the cave to emulate someone actually breaking a serious bone somewhat deep in a cave. The class took about 6 hours to excavate the victim from the cave from the time the victim began to act injured and when the victim made it to the cave mouth. Amazingly it only took ten minutes to crawl out of the cave from where the victim was injured, however a lot of it was crawling, which meant we needed to drag the litter with us. Overall, everyone had a great weekend a much was learned.

The next Friday, it was my time to show off my DJ skills at the Homecoming Dance. I had suprisingly been one of the three out of six DJ’s who had the best student votes from the audition dance. I had never DJed before, however I had always wanted to because I did not really like the music others DJ’s played. SO finally it was Friday night and it was my time to shine. I had the last shift of the night out of the other three DJ’s so by that time the room was reaching 85° F. Everything in the room was coated with moisture from all the sweat and heat. I was prepared to DJ in my caving outfit and my rope slung over my shoulder because I wanted to promote the Adventure Education major. My co-DJ and I really enjoyed ourselves even though it seemed people were not dancing too much because they may have been tired.

Somehow as a part of my major, I am required to take two education classes and I happended to be taking them at the same time. Oddly, the text books follow the same topics and also ironically, the two teachers happen to go through the material at the same pace. So of course, as many other teachers try to do, these two teachers wanted to have our Mid term test before fall break began. Along with those tests, I had a criminal justice test the day after those two. Studying for these three tests was probably one of the most stressful things that has happened to me a while. Luckily I did do fairly well on the tests because I made sure all my time was spent studying. So if you are a new student thinking about Messiah, plan to be studying non stop before your fall break.

It was fall break and it was finally time for my girlfriend, Robin, to move to a nearby town so she could be much closer while I finished up my last year of school. She had been working at yellowstone park in wyoming the entire summer and into the fall semester. Then she flew home for a week and I flew down to pick her up over our fall break. Then with her house mate, we drove back up from New Orleans. While in New Orleans, we went on a swamp tour to see lots of alligators. I was also able to see where she grew up for the majority of her childhood before she was evacuated due to the Hurricane Katrina. I also got to meet some of her childhood friend from school which was really cool to see who she grew up with. She evaccuated to Texas after Katrina and stayed there until she began her BA at Messiah College. So going to texas is our next excursion we are supposed to go on.

I am currently enrolled in a trip planning class that is required for my major where we have to plan a trip that we will lead during Messiah’s spring break. Since we were hoping to explore  a different area that previous students in that class had ever been to, we were required to scout the area before we brought participants there. We had to drive down to Georgia in a 15 passenger van with the other students in the class who needed to scout in that area. In my group, we had two other guys and our plan was to drive to the different cave entrances then slightly explore them to see if they would be good for us to lead a group inside them. We found out that one cave had one 538foot and a 450foot rappel inside the cave. Since we were mapless, lacked vertical experience, and did not have rope, we did not decide to do those rappels because that means we needed to ascend back up all that rope. Being that we would only be bringing students who probably had never been caving before, we knew these ascents would not be something we would lead the participants up. We had searched for another cave while in the mountain, but were unsuccessful in finding it, so when we return, we plan to have an official member from the cave grotto lead us in the cave.

Those were the eventful experiences that I had in October, thanks for reading!

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Successful September

Throughout the month of september there have been many challenges places before me; some regular, some new. Of course there were the tests and quizzes, but through hard perseverance, I was able to pass all of them. There were some, no so normal trails that I was faced with this sepetember. Being that Messiah decided to switch email clients from Groupwise to Outlook, the Outdoors Club did not have all the contacts transferred over to Outlook. It was a long strenuous process to figure out how to contact all of our memebers. After three weeks of working through the ranks all the way up to multiple head administrators, we were able to finally contact all 718 Outdoors Club to notify them about our weekly trips.

Earlier in the month I had to opportunity with the Outdoors Club to kayaking on the Potomac/Shannondoah river in Maryland. It is similar to the Susquehanna, however there are more surfing opportunities. We had one alumni come back for the trip and another participant who did not come back to Messiah this semester, but we all missed him. It was an awesome trip and everyone really seemed to enjoy it. Later in the month we had a lot of rain at one time which of course causes the Stoney Creek to flood. I had been craving to paddle that river again, but at a level that was runnable unlike the story on my last post. I talked to my professor after I got off work and he got another professor and we all put in at the top. The creek was much more enjoyable knowing there were no class five rapids but only nice surfing waves. I was able to catch a few really nice waves while on the river including a 12 ft wide hole at the take out. This trip allowed me to realize that flooded rivers can be fun to run as long as they are not raging! If you do run the stony, there is only one river wide strainer about 1/3 of the way down. It is the tree that was previously close to the put in but was pushed down the river during the flood when Josh lost his boat last year.

Later in the month I was faced with a challenge for some, but a natural talent for myself. For over a years I had been conversing with my friend Nicole about DJing a Messiah dance because we never really like the music they played. The opportunity came up to audition to become a DJ at the homecoming dance so Nicole and I signed up. We were one set DJ’s that would have to outperform six other groups. We were placed on the docket last, so there were a few songs that were played before us that we planned to play. Being the good DJ’s that we were, we simply played other songs that we knew people would love. In order for us to win the audition, we had to be on the top three texted list. SAB has a method where students could vote by texting for their three favorite DJ’s and those three would be playing at the homecoming dance. A few days later we found out that we nailed the audition with a 2nd place. Being the last Dj’s up with good songs played before us that we could not repeat, we felt 2nd was swell.

This past weekend I had planned to go caving down in West Virginia where we would visit Sinnet cave. It was a gated cave which means you need the owners permission to access the cave with a key. I did not really know what I was expecting when I entered until we crawled and navigated our way to the Big room! We had to shimmy our way up the silo (a 45• smooth rock surface) to get into the big room. The big room is the name of the 800 ft. long room in the middle of the cave. In the room there were clusters of bats all over, some flying but most hanging. There were fossils of shells which proved a lake used to lay in that area thousands of years ago. The group that I was with was prepared to take some big room cave shots. We carried six slave flashes into the cave that we could simultaneously place down the 800ft walkway. The final product turned out quite well compared to those national geographic cave shots.

One word of advice for those of you who are planning to partake in a long distance relationship, use video skype as much as possible. Only hearing the persons voice may make you weary. At least being about to see the person while talking to them does help bring home that one day you will again be together.

Well that is all I have for you at this point, thanks for reading!

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You “Gotta” Fall Back

A long hug, a few short kisses, and one goodbye ended my summer. Shortly after school ended, I was required to take a May term course for my Adventure Education major called WEA (Wilderness Education Association). That class was entirely based on leading groups on extended backpacking trips. The Quahanna wilderness area was our backcountry class room for 21 days. We learned skills that are necessary in the backcountry like compass skills, weather reading, operation and repair of stoves, clothing selection, and much more. This in no way was an easy class because we were required to write two multiple page journals every day amongst hiking, being in class, and cooking. I was glad have finished that class because by the end I was so tired of the structure and the rigorous feedback that the instructors were required to give.

During the summer I was enrolled to an internship program that was located up in the North Maine Woods. I was a canoe guide, driver, commissary manager, and administrative shadow for nine weeks. For the Adventure Education major at Messiah, you are required to complete an internship while having senior status. I wanted to complete an internship during the summer because I wanted to get a camp experience and guide extended wilderness trips. As a student you have the option to complete the internship during school, but I do not think I would have had a good enough hands on experience.

During my time in Maine, it was hard to communicate back to loved ones because we had no electricity, cell service, or a drivable road that went to camp. We used solar electricity and boat to get across the lake to the camp. In order to make a phone call, we had to use a booster that worked off radio frequency. Despite the troubles, I needed to buy a plane ticket out to Yellowstone National Park to visit my girl friend Robin at the end of the summer. I had never been to YNP before, so I was very excited to see what all the hype about the geysers was about.

When I finally arrived back home after my internship was over, I spent only a couple days at home visiting my friends before we all went back to college. Before I knew it I was on my way out to a part of the US I had never really explored. The landscape oddly reminded me of New Zealand with the dry hills, and rocky peaks. I was able to see many good views on hikes and long car rides. There were some amazing waterfalls and surfing spots for kayaking. Seeing the geysers was neat, however they are not something I would want to see everyday. After a short vacation to see Robin and after a long hug, a few short kisses, and one goodbye my summer had ended.

Now I am back at school where I am still employed with the Office of Marketing and Public Relations workstudy position. Immediately as I returned I was assigned to the welcome week video some of you may have seen on Before I even finished, I was alerted of the next video project that was due only a few days later. The next video project was to commemorate and reflect on the tragedy on september 11th in NYC. That video is currently on

While I am in the office editing videos, there are people in harrisburg cleaning up their destroyed houses from the flooded Susquehanna river. During the flood I was unable to kayak on the river because one, it was too dangerous with all the boils rising from all the underwater trees and what not, and two because I was backpacking that weekend of the flood. I just got back from a 31 mile backpacking trip with two of my good friends from college. We hiked 4 miles the first day, 18 the next, and 10 the last day. We saw 9 snakes on saturday, 5 of which were poisonous rattle snakes. After we finished we were extremely sore, but at least it was a good work out. It was the rockiest section of the Application Trail I have ever hiked. You are now up to date with my life. Thanks for reading!