On Feb. 27, the Mount’s Outdoor Adventures program put on a community bonfire which was their largest event so far this semester. In accordance with Maryland state guidelines for outdoor gatherings, Outdoor Adventures was able to host 20 guests alongside five CRUX leaders. On a brisk weekend evening, the group gathered outside McGowan to prepare for their night walk up to the bonfire site located near the ARCC. Several students in attendance noted that this was the largest group they had been in since last March.
Following some brief community-building activities, the group began its walk across the street to the ARCC where each attendee was provided with a head light. The sight of 25 highlights and a nearly full moon to light the sky really helped to set an exciting and cheerful atmosphere for the night’s event. After turning a corner students were greeted with a view of the bonfire, prepared by hard working CRUX leaders in advance, waiting for them in the distance.
After arriving at the bonfire, bags that were pre-packaged in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 were handed out filled with ingredients to make s’mores. Hot chocolate was provided and CRUX leaders went into the woods to gather sticks for roasting marshmallows. Social events like the bonfire have become increasingly more infrequent as a result of the pandemic, making them more needed than ever. CRUX leader Mike Hartloff (C’21) said he hoped the bonfire would serve as an opportunity for students to have some interaction outside of a class environment.
The Outdoor Adventures program has worked hard in order to keep putting on the activities they can in spite of COVID-19. Hartloff noted that while Outdoor Adventures has always had to deal with risk management, they are now dealing with a new form of risk. Rather than dealing with insuring physical safety while rock climbing, Hartloff now has to ensure that the risk of spreading COVID-19 is minimized. Having to maintain social distancing and mask mandates have forced the program to look for new activities within those parameters. According to CRUX leader Marcos Gonzalez (C’22), activities like rock climbing are no longer viable because they call for leaders to work closely when teaching certain techniques.
However, in spite of these challenges, the program has still managed to make the best of its circumstances. Future events such as paddle boarding are in the works at the pond across the street from campus. Gonzalez feels the program has done a good job adjusting to the “new normal” and Saturday night’s bonfire is clear evidence of their success.