The Highlander

SOAR Offers New Trips, Activities

Erin O'Brien, Reporter

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The SOAR program has a new organizer and many trips planned to entice student nature-lovers.

Allison Kinsey took over as Coordinator of Student Engagement in September. Her focus is on  general engagement and leading the SOAR program, which caters to those who love the outdoors and are interested in developing leadership skills.

“We strive to present leadership opportunities for students and to help them to enjoy themselves, to enjoy the outdoors, whether that means hiking and camping, relaxing in a hammock on campus, ice skating or pushing their limits rock climbing.”

This semester’s activities include a night hike during the week as well as weekend day hikes and paddling.

“We are also running a skiing and snowboarding trip to Smuggler’s Notch Resort in Vermont, which is from December 16 to 19,” she said.

The trip is among the group’s more popular activities, she said.

Stephanie Shara, junior speech language pathology major, participated because she thought it would be an interesting experience that would also help her make new friends.

“I’m glad to say that it did, and I’m still friends with several of the people I met on the trip. Besides meeting new people, I like being involved in SOAR because I love nature. Also, activities like hiking help me to stay active,” Shara said.

Megan Oldak, sophomore occupational therapy major and communications minor from New York,  said she participated to explore more of Pennsylvania.

“I really like to go on the night hikes,” Oldak said.  “That’s my favorite activity. I want to go on their bike trips in the future. I really enjoy it, and I hope that they have more activities for me to go on to relax and enjoy,” Oldak said.

Ethan Snyder, sophomore medical imaging major, said he enjoyed SOAR activities and he has  decided to continue and make it a bigger part of his life.

“My goals are to promote healthy activities for myself and others,” Snyder said. “The activities we have for the fall are a bit small compared to what we hope to have in the spring. We hope to have more overnight trips in the future.”

Kinsey plans to offer more programming next semester. Outings may include backpacking weekends, rock climbing, skiing and snowboarding at local mountains, figure skating, horseback riding, and more.

“In the spring the plan is to open up a leadership workshop to bring in new people who would be interested in leading events,” Snyder said.

He added that no one has to be a member to sign up for events.

“All are welcome, even beginners. The leaders will work with each individual to attempt to deliver a quality experience to each participant on a trip,” he said.

“Try heading out on a trip sometime, ” Shara said. “Even just a short hike can be a nice break from schoolwork, and it gives you a chance to appreciate the beauty of nature and to make new friends.”

Chelsea Korbich,  sophomore speech language pathology major said she went on a trip at the beginning of her freshman year.

“SOAR really helped me feel more prepared for the school year and inspired me to enter the SOAR leadership program. My goal with the program is to gain leadership skills and to also get the opportunity to learn new and exciting skills, and of course I want the chance to go on lots of cool outdoor adventures!”

Korbich hopes everyone feels welcome to attend.

“It’s for anyone who appreciates nature or even just wants a break from school. I would encourage people to sign up, it’s a great opportunity,” she said.

“All in all, SOAR is a great club to be a part of, and I encourage anyone who is interested to come on a trip and check it out,” Snyder said.

Interested students need to visit the Student Engagement office in Banks and sign up to participate.  Some trips carry a small fee to cover the cost of food, if it’s provided, Kinsey said.

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SOAR Offers New Trips, Activities