Lifestyles editor participates in senior class trip to Genesee Valley


Mark Ionescu

Seniors anticipate the day ahead at Genesee Valley Outdoor Learning Center. Despite the uncooperative weather seniors were eager to get started.

I scream as I hang for dear life on a half-foot wide pole 25 feet in the air. The wind is whipping and the first drops of rain are starting to fall through the openings in the trees.  My palms are sweating and I’m absolutely terrified. “Yup, that’s it. Caitlin is coming down.”

So maybe I was secured in a harness and maybe there wasn’t even the slightest possible chance of falling. But still, it was a scary experience.

Scaling the 30 ft. rock climbing pole was the first activity in my group’s Genesee Valley experience.  After seeing seniors Mitchel Russell, Fiona van der Steur and Devin Smaldore climb all the way to the top, stand up, and jump off, I thought “eh, must be a piece of cake, ” but after climbing about two-thirds up the pole and looking down, I knew I was wrong.

“Yeah that’s enough for me,” I thought to myself and then I promptly screamed I wanted to get down.

Genesee Valley’s 250 acre facility is filled to every inch with crazy activities just like the one mentioned.  As an outdoor learning center, it provides a way for children and adults to step outside their comfort zones and partake in things they never thought they could do.

This trip was designed for the senior class to do just that, take chances and learn to try new things, all in an effort to make us more ready for college.  The senior class was divided into 14 groups of 10.  Each group was paired with a chaperon from JC, and a leader from the Genesee Valley staff.  Each group’s schedule was designed to have different activities ranging from mild to “wow I can’t believe I’m actually doing this.”

Unfortunately, the class of 2014 was not able to completely explore or utilize the vast facility due to the excessive rain and a tornado warning, and when I say excessive, I mean torrential downpour.  The weather was so bad that all after school activities were canceled and we ended up having to leave early.  But, of course, safety is always a first, and we still managed to have a great bonding experience while playing various indoor games.

In the safe sanctuary of our small, one room building, my group of 10, along with another group, participated in activities that involved communication, teamwork, cooperation, listening, and a lot of awkward physical contact with people you were not familiar with.

Even though the games may have seemed silly at first, we all soon learned that they were teaching us to work as a team.  For example, we all held hands in a circle and tried to get a hoola hoop through all of us, without letting go.  It was really cool to see all of us working and having a good time together, even people who I thought I’d never like.

Granted, it probably would have been way cooler to have perfect weather so we could climb more things, but I still really enjoyed the experience of becoming close with my peers while staying warm and snug in our little room.  With all the stress of college applications, essays, and grades, it was nice to unwind and laugh for a little bit with the people I’ll be walking across the stage with come May.

Caitlin Wolfarth is a Lifestyles Editor for the Patriot and