SMU OA, one of about 12 universities/colleges, was well represented at the 2011 annual Texas Outdoor Leadership Conference (TOLC), Jan 28-30, hosted by Rice and University of Houston. Seven OA staff made the trip to Lake Houston Park for a weekend of educational sessions, skills training, fun and networking. The following SMU OA student staff made the trip: Monti Bultz, Buzz Nanavati, Stephen Hayden, Jeremy Rechtien, Connor Flynn, Jordan Lee, and Amanda Trexel.
The Texas Outdoor Leadership Conference (TOLC) is an annual weekend conference focusing on the development of university/college outdoor recreation student staff/volunteers hosted by one of the many Texas university or college outdoor recreation programs. Most of the attendees are from Texas universities or colleges but it is open to regional (AR, LA, OK) schools as well. Educational sessions are presented by students, graduate students, program professionals and experts in the outdoor recreation field on topics ranging from flora/fauna, outdoor technical skills, program issues, and leadership development. In addition to the great educational sessions, TOLC is meant to be fun so it will often include interesting keynote speakers, social events, music, raffles, an adventure race and the coveted Dutch Oven Cook-Off.
Friday is always the kick-off of the conference with a keynote speaker and social activities. Saturday was full of a variety of sessions lasting 1-1.5 hours. Sessions covered a variety of topics such as climbing wall risk management, issues of diversity in outdoor recreation, training for altitude, environmental stewardship, local/regional destinations, Texas geology, programming ideas, animal identification, expedition planning, resume for outdoor careers, and simple climbing anchors.
Saturday afternoon included the annual TOLC Adventure Race. Teams consisting of 4 members, usually representing an attending college or university outdoor program and one of which must be of a different gender, must complete the designated course and activities in the shortest amount of time. This year’s race included a 1.5 mile trail run, an orienteering or land navigation component, and intermixed with team initiatives or obstacles. Our representing SMU adventure race team of Amanda, Jordan, Jeremy and Connor completed the course in a respectful 63 minutes and earned an 8th place finish, out of 11 teams. The 2011 winner was UTSA with a time of 48 minutes.
Saturday night is the big Dutch Oven Cook-off: each representing school puts their cooking skills on the line. Awards are given to the school judged to have the most unique and tasty entree. SMU OA’s Buzz Nanavati entered a Rabbit Stew which received raving remarks from judges and attendees; however, we were unaware that points were subtracted for not submitting a dessert. Oh well, maybe next year. Again, UTSA took the prize for the second year in a row.
Sunday, departure day, is a half day with usually longer, skilled based/activity sessions. SMU OA student staff were able to attend a session on crisis management in the field, slacklining (think tightrope walking), and a local bike ride.
All in all, a great weekend for learning, refreshing, and meeting new people.