5-College Outdoor Festival March 2008

The 5-college Outdoor Festival brings students and community members together to celebrate the great outdoors and have a bit of fun while doing it.  For the past 7 years Zoar Outdoor has brought a trailer full of boats and instructors to assist anyone interested in finding out more about the sport and this year the pool was busy!

Our instructors, Bruce, Cory, Brian, Elaine, Dennis, Hillary and I, were available for instruction and boat demos.  Everyone participated, from total beginners just learning how to be comfortable in a kayak to experienced paddlers learning to cartwheel.

Most people were there to sharpen their rolls or get coaching on more advanced moves.  It was great to have a variety of kayaks and canoes to try in one place.  What great fun!  Some folks actually stayed for 6 hours, so I guess if you’re not outside enjoying the snow you might as well be in a warm pool tossing ends watching the snow fall outside.   There was much giggling and a number of “ah ha” moments.

Although the weather forecast was for cold, Friday night’s keynote speaker, pro-boater  Anna Levesque, got a warm reception from the audience.  Her presentation “Kitchen Girl to Girls at Play!” chronicled her life actually making a living doing what she loves.  She entertained the audience with many stories of her journey from working in a kitchen to building her company ‘Girls at Play’.  She also showed photos from her travels to Mexico, Ecuador, New Zealand, Australia, Costa Rica, and Spain.

Saturday’s events culminated with MountainFilm, America’s premier touring film festival, from the Telluride MountainFilm Festival which celebrates the outdoors and mountain adventures. The tour “combines adventure, mountaineering, unique personalities and important environmental and social messages” into a presentation geared toward an audience with broad interests.  

This year’s event held special meaning for many of us. The goal was to help raise awareness, support and donations to fight Ovarian Cancer and support the HERA Cancer Connection and the Kathy Kyker-Snowman Outdoor Leadership Fund for Women.    

For thirty years, Kathy Kyker-Snowman devoted her professional life to inspiring students of all ages to discover their strengths through energetic outdoor adventuring. Kathy was known for her enthusiasm, her welcoming smile and acceptance of others without judgment, her perpetual devotion to learning and teaching others, her physical strength and fearlessness and skilled and joyful ability to lead.

At just 52 Kathy lost her vibrant life to cancer, and outdoor education lost an exemplary leader. In her memory, a fund was started by Kathy’s family, friends and associates to keep her spirit alive. The fund provides grants to support young women outdoor leaders in their efforts to enhance their professional skills. The fund is open to women who are students at the 5 Colleges or Greenfield Community College, who have demonstrated interest in teaching in the outdoors.

I am excited to announce that $30,000 has been raised for the HERA Cancer Connection and the Kathy Kyker-Snowman Outdoor Leadership Fund for Women.   

If you are interested in finding out more or if you want to donate, please contact either Bob Garmirian or Glenna Alderson at Hampshire College, 413-549-4600

Enjoy Life and giggle whenever possible.

Janet Burnett Cowie - Director of Instruction Programs, Zoar Outdoor

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