Laura Vang '15
Student Director for Conversations That Matter
Hometown: Memphis, TNRead the full interview
Dartmouth's Outdoor Leadership Experience was established in the hopes of providing for local middle and high school students opportunities for social engagement and outdoor activity. For those who choose to be involved, OLE offers a group-oriented mentorship experience that focuses on the development of teamwork and leadership skills in both mentees and mentors.
Participants are split into groups, each of which meets for several hours on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday to interact with each other and with the outdoors through an activity planned by the volunteers at a weekly all-leader meeting. Though every activity will have some element of teamwork or leadership built in, the range of possibilities is quite large. Some of our favorite activities include scavenger hunts around Dartmouth’s campus that end in cooking a snack on outdoor stoves, canoeing along the Connecticut while playing get-to-know you games, hiking to the top of a local fire-tower to compete in an egg-drop competition, and – in the winter – snowshoeing on the golf course and finishing up with a fondue-cook-off.
Partially masked behind the fun and challenge of our activities is a goal often sought by mentoring programs - to create bonds between individuals who might not otherwise interact with each other, and to do so in a way that explores and highlights individual talents. Without revealing what, exactly, we are hoping for our students to learn, we are able to design OLE days that test them in different ways and that encourage the natural development of communicative and collaborative skills that will be equip them for positive interactions beyond their involvement with OLE. As mentors, we train ourselves to be aware of and receptive to behaviors that accompany our mentees' unique environments and challenges. We employ collaborative resources, including personal experience, research, and local professionals, to inform our practices and techniques with the students. It is our firm belief that our mentors, selected through a highly competitive application and interview process, are each individually capable of managing difficult situations and of providing sound mentorship to students who may come to them for help or advice.
For more than a decade, OLE has invited and enjoyed the participation of lively, passionate, and dedicated individuals on both the Dartmouth and Mascoma ends of our program. We have continued to grow as an organization thanks to the efforts and support of the Tucker Foundation and of our community partners. As has been made possible through fundraising efforts and grants from interested and generous supporters, we have enjoyed yearly overnights with our students and bi-annual dinners with families that help to bridge the divide between volunteers and the community with which our students are a part. We hope, in the future, to not only continue these events, but also to initiate new programs – such as a weekend camping trip!
- Blitz "OLE"
- Call 603-646-3350
- Stop by the Tucker Foundation, South Fairbanks Hall
Last Updated: 2/3/15