Anna Laprise ’20 heard a mysterious rustling of leaves, and then, in an explosive burst, an alarmed rabbit came charging from the woods and darted across the hiking path. An instant later, it became obvious what the rabbit was running from.
“A huge fisher cat darted out just behind the rabbit and then they both disappeared again into the woods,” Laprise recalled.
That encounter was one of many memorable experiences Laprise and her fellow students have shared as part of Conn’s Outdoor Adventures program, which offers a variety of opportunities to explore the New England wilderness.
The program, which initially began in the spring of 2018 as a club organization, is now a formal program in the Office of Student Life that provides a number of ever-expanding trips and outings that range from weeklong camping excursions to local kayaking activities. The multiple kayaking
trips have been so popular that the program forged a partnership with New England Science and Sailing, a nonprofit that has collaborated on several trips near campus.
Each trip has at least two student leaders who have been interviewed and selected by Geoff Norbert, assistant dean of student engagement and new student programs. Thus far, all student leaders—15 in total—have gone on to earn a Level II kayaking certification from the American Canoe Association.
Sophia McLaughlin ’20, a student leader who has been involved with the program since her first semester at Conn, said the trips have given her opportunities to expand her social group. She’s especially proud of the growth she’s seen among the students who have participated.
“I’ve always been a real nature enthusiast, and watching people fall in love with the outdoors during these trips has been incredibly gratifying,” McLaughlin said. “It’s exciting to be part of a program that has undergone such an impressive transition from a small club into a College program that is constantly expanding and offering more trips and a wider variety of activities.”