Field Courses

WMS students will be spending the week of March 7-11 on Spring Field Courses and as usual, they had many amazing opportunities to choose from.
Field Courses Spring 2011
1) Buddhism

  On this trip we will travel to Shelburne, Vermont to spend five days studying and practicing Zen Buddhism. Our days will be spent learning the basics of Buddhist philosophy, meditating, doing volunteer work – work jobs and kitchen crew – and learning other Buddhist practices. We will be staying in the Vermont Zen Center’s bunkhouse and eating vegetarian food in their dining room. There will be a taiko drumming workshop. Most of the trip will be spent at the center, but we’ll spend one morning in doing community service and an afternoon in Burlington.

     Because this is a religion-focused trip, it will present some unique challenges. We will spend much of our time in silent meditation, all of our food will be vegetarian, we will have to be open to an unfamiliar religious tradition, and we will have to work together harmoniously as we live in close quarters. The trip is meant to be an introduction for those who are genuinely curious about the Buddhist religion, but is not designed to convert anyone. Students who have taken the Buddhism class are encouraged to come, and students who have not taken the class are welcome, too. The trip will cost about $200 extra per student for food and lodging.
2) History in Boston’s Chinatown

Students will explore Boston’s Chinatown through a historical lens. We will take walking tours, visit museums, enjoy Asian cuisine, and learn more about Chinese culture and history. Students will be asked to read articles about Chinese immigration to the united states and also watch several films before we leave for our trip. Highlights of the trip will include: a cultural scavenger hunt, interviews with residents, a trip to the Chinese Historical Society of New England, and a trip to The Peabody Essex Museum.
3) The Art of Science and the Science of Art

Perhaps the defining quality of human beings is a desire to make sense of the complex, interrelated world in which we exist. Our efforts to generate order out of chaos take many forms, two of which are the creation of art and the creation of scientific theories. These seemingly disparate fields share many characteristics. On this field course, we will explore the ways in which the practice of science is similar to the practice of art. We will also look at the ways in which the fields overlap, such as when scientific ideas are made more broadly comprehensible through illustrations and the ways in which a scientific understanding of anatomy, color, and proportions enhance the beauty, power, and social significance of art. Staying at the the North Woods Center in East Charlston, VT, our days will be filled with cross country ski tours punctuated with time for art, discussions of the scientific method, and study of color and anatomy. Each evening we will return to the cabin for dinner and to continue our discussions.

4) History of Mountain Biking

Despite the fact that Newark, Delaware, is located roughly halfway between Philadelphia and Baltimore and is part of densely populated New Castle County, there is a large amount of public parkland surrounding the city. These parks have traditionally provided hiking and horseback riding opportunities. In recent years the local mountain bike community has been working hard to gain mountain bike access to these areas through advocacy, proper land management, and improving the reputation of riders.  With this gained access they have built hundreds of miles of top quality trails. During our week in this area we will mountain bike on some of these trails at Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area and White Clay Creek State Park. Along with riding these great trails we will be studying the history of mountain biking both in this area and throughout the country. Where did mountain biking start and why? Who were the key players in the development of this sport?  How has the mountain bike evolved?  We will be looking to answer these questions and more on our quest to gain an understanding of mountain biking. Our nightly accommodations consist of yurts (round domed shelters) at Lums Pond State park. This is an intermediate/advanced mountain bike trip open to riders with one season of mountain biking as a sport (or equivalent) and a motivation to ride and learn a lot in the week we will be there. The trip will cost around $100 per student, which includes transportation, camping in yurts, food, and trail and park fees.
5) Green Living in an Urban Setting (Pre-Selected)

Eco-quartier, Montreal

This course will be designed for students to have a hands-on opportunity to learn about the ways people can reduce their environmental impact while living in a city as well as how to best spread this message. We will be working with an organization called Eco-quartier, which has centers throughout Montreal. As for specifics, Eco-quartier wanted to wait until we are closer to March to best determine their needs at the time but they are very open-minded as to providing a program according to our students’ interests. Programs that they are currently offering include: neighborhood cleanups, environmental awareness, recycling and composting promotion, workshops to children in after-school programs, distributing flyers, inspecting recycling bins and handing out information to residents so that they’re aware what is and what is not recyclable, and making videos. Depending on the students who sign up for the course, there could be a language focus included as well (or an introduction to French for non-French speakers).

6) Winter Weather in the Whites

Weather happens each and every day whether we like it or not and most of us go through our lives without knowing much about it at all. Winter Weather will be a great introduction to a variety of weather topics. We will explore firsthand and in real time things like cloud formations, precipitation, barometric pressure, and why fog forms. Perhaps most importantly, we will learn what the heck popcorn convection is and why it might be important in your life. We will spend two nights based at the Cardigan High Cabin near the summit of Mt. Cardigan and two nights at the Harvard Cabin in beautiful Huntington Ravine on Mt. Washington. We will spend our days hiking in these areas, and observing (as well as attempting to predict) the weather. We will meet with people who study and use weather for a living and each student will create a weather related project in an area of their choosing.
7) Leadership Ropes Course

Risk and conflict play big roles in our lives. On this field course we’ll learn about ways of dealing with these two issues. We will learn through readings, lectures, journaling, and our experiences on the high and low ropes course at the UNH Browne Center. No experience necessary, but a positive attitude and an open mind are required as well as a willingness to try a high ropes and low ropes course. We will be staying in a yurt (a big open round space with a roof) and the expected cost is less than $100 per student.
8) Exploring the Local Ski Industry

Have you ever wondered how to make snow? Or how a metal cable can  move an entire chairlift? Well, on the Ski Industry Field Course, all these questions will be answered. Between shredding the slopes at Cannon we will be job shadowing various employees at the mountain to learn more about what it takes to keep it running. We’ll follow ski patrol on early morning runs, learn how groomers carve the slopes into corduroy and understand how the Cannon Tram can carry up hundreds of people a day to the top of the mountain. We will also dive into the rich history of skiing in the area. For this trip, students must be competent skiers comfortable with skiing most of the terrain at Cannon and must posses a pass to the mountain (Bold and Beautiful, or a regular Cannon pass).

9) Community Service Odyssey to the Nicaragua (Pre-Selected)

Students in this course will examine the issues of culture, poverty, social development, and social justice in Nicaragua, through the mediums of service work alongside our Nicarguan hosts, and through meetings, discussions, and assignments. We will look at development issues that have plagued the island nation for years, and examine current efforts to address these issues.

During this trip we will travel to Managua, Nicaragua and the surrounding area. We will be working with Women in Action, aiding them in the completion of various work projects. We will also get a chance to visit a local school, the Mombacho volcano, a local farm and a craft market.  The purpose of this trip is to provide community service to those living in the Primavera neighborhood of Managua and to explore the local culture. This is an exceptional opportunity for you to improve your Spanish and explore the world beyond WMS.
10) Avalanche Forecasting, WY/ ID (Pre-Selected)

This field course is an advanced Outdoor Education trip suggested for those students in Backcountry Skiing/Snowboarding. This course is a must for those who venture into the backcountry during the winter.  We will be engaged in all aspects of avalanche study: identification of avalanche terrain, stability assessment,  route finding, search/rescue techniques, and the human factor. The course will be located in the Tetons Range of Wyoming around Jackson Hole, one of the most diverse and accessible backcountry ski areas in the country. We will examine weather, wind, and snow variations and how that relates to predicting snow stability in the backcountry. The course will follow a three-day Level I avalanche education curriculum created by AAIRE (American Avalanche Institute of Research and Education). The course will combine class lecture with field research as well as a travel day during which the students will utilize the skills that they have acquired.

Leave a Reply