The first-year students in the Stafford Technical Center Public Safety Services Program recently boated down a section of Otter Creek by canoe and kayak. The expedition had three purposes for the eleven students, who came from six different high schools.
The first purpose was to build teamwork, and allow the students to get to know each other better in an environment outside of the classroom. The second purpose was to expose canoeing and kayaking as life sports, and to be another way that students will fulfill the 60 hours of physical activity required to earn a half credit of physical education that is built into the Public Safety Services program. The last goal was just to have fun.
The students' voyage was under the direction of Steve Lulek of the Green Mountain Rock Climbing Center, who is an expert in Adventure Education.
After Lulek provided instruction on boating safety and different paddle strokes, the flotilla of small boats entered the water just after the falls in Proctor. The area around the falls is very beautiful, with a beach sand entry, the sounds of the rushing water, the working power plant, and abandoned marble buildings. The water in Otter Creek was quite low, which meant that the group had to do a lot of planning and working together to get around sandbars and all sorts of downed trees in the creek.
While the trip down Otter Creek only went from the Proctor falls to the covered bridge near the transfer station in Pittsford, which is only 5 or 6 miles by car, it was much longer by boat as the creek twists and turns its way downstream. Along the way, there were many sights to see- there is the place where an old farm dump was located, the site of a train wreck from 1905, and many old bridges. The students also saw a lot of wildlife, including a number of great blue herons.
There were many examples of teamwork. Mill River senior Aaron Bosch got into the water to pull boats through a particularly dense snaggle of trees.
Amber Hannan, also a Mill River senior, helped and encouraged her peers who were less experienced.
Poultney High School juniors Kim Rupe and Nicole Bogucki went down the river in a kayak, and seemed to do it easily.
Other students in their first year at the Public Safety Services Program are Mill River Union High School seniors Korey Russell and Alan Grenier, West Rutland senior Emily Johnson, Fair Haven Union High School senior Emily Fredette, Otter Valley Union High School senior Ashley Smith, Poultney High School junior Virginia "Ginger" Vaughn, and Rutland High School junior Domenick Brown.