Outdoor education programs have been a staple at Marvelwood dating back to the 1970s. Today, the three-season Outdoor Adventure (OA) program gives students the opportunity to learn about and explore all things out-of-doors, including hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, raft-building, maple syrup production, and wilderness survival. Program Director Matt Walters ‘97, avid adventurer, loved playing in the woods as a child, spending much of his free time in a large town-owned forest near his home in Eastern Connecticut. Matt describes his younger self as a combination of Robinson Crusoe and Rambo.
As a Marvelwood student in the mid-1990’s, Matt enjoying exploring the campus and the area with peers and faculty, and is very thankful for everything he learned.. “My passion for the outdoors grew when I got to Marvelwood; we were often taken on camping and hiking trips. There’s just something incredibly relaxing about hiking into the mountains. To me, it’s the simplicity. When you get to a place with a great view, you take your time and take it all in.” Known as Wilderness Ways at the time, the program was led by veteran faculty member Nat Corwin. In Matt’s senior year, Larry Kollath took over the program: “Mr. Kollath was a former down-pilot survival instructor for the United States Air Force, and introduced us to some crazy stuff, such as primitive living skills, tracking, and basic survival. I’m happy to say that we have reincorporated those elements into the current program.”
Looking forward, Matt has many goals for the Outdoor Adventure program; he is always trying to implement new elements and new challenges for the students. Archery was added in the fall, which was met with great enthusiasm. “For 2019, I’m working on putting together a spring break road trip to visit national parks across the country.” Matt is also exploring ways to have all Marvelwood students experience OA, such as a day when everyone switches afternoon activities. “It would be good for some OA students to learn how to hit a fastball, and for soccer players to learn how to paddle a canoe. I can’t thank Athletic Director Zach Maizel ‘04 enough. He has been very supportive of the program.”
As a freshman, David Touitou ‘18, was eager explore the beautiful area around Marvelwood. A four-year Outdoor Adventurer, David, who is from Paris, France, says, “I will miss the people the most. OA is all about the people and the time you spend together outdoors.” David offers this advice to students new to the program: “Slow down and smell the flowers every once in a while. And above all, have fun!”