Posts Tagged ‘Bob Stremba’

MSI Holds Retreat

30/10/2009

Good Energy & Great Ideas at MSI’s Board Retreat
Mountain Spirit Held its bi-annual retreat recently at the home of Founder Randall Richards in Sunapee, NH, USA.  Board member Bob Stremba of Colorado, Craig Cimmons of Vermont and New Jersy, Cindy Heath of Plainfield, NH, R. Richards and Amanda Richards of New Hampshire and New Zealand, also attended.

The group discussed last years goals and achievements, plus future plans for fund raising, grant writing, and programs for the future.  Randy and Amanda Richards did a presentation on last summer’s Peru program, and plans were discussed to run the program again. New programs such as India, Everest Basecamp, and a Holistic Leadership Training program were discussed and planned.
The board also talked about updating and modifying the website.  Amanda Richards was also voted on as the newest member of the board, as well as being named treasurer.
A new boardmember search is planned which would focus on people with experience in donor relations and fund raising.

The following day the group, went for a day hike on Mt. Cardigan near Hanover, NH to walk and talk about ideas such as the mission and working on the board’s “elevator speech”, plus take in the view. They also had a ball getting out on the mountain for a crisp fall day in New England.

Below, four of the six board members pose for a group shot, which turned out to be a video instead.

From Mt. Hood to Russia

16/06/2009

Bob Stremba

Bob Stremba

M.S.I. VP/Board member and fellow spirit adventurer Bob Stremba, EdD, is heading for Oregon and Washington State tomorrow  to take a bit of time off between semesters running the Adventure Education Department at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. He’s also headed north to climb on Mt. Hood’s southern route again. He’ll be climbing the route with fellow board members of the Association of Experiential Education. Over the years, Bob has also summited Mt. Rainer twice,  as well as Mt. Baker and Mt. Adams.

After his trip to the Northwest, Bob will be flying to Russia where he’ll be going into classrooms,  facilitating group team building initiatives for Russian students. When I asked how his conversational Russian was coming along, he said he’ll have a translator.  However he is working on the written language a bit,  I assume so he can write a bit on blackboards and flip-charts.  Stremba applied for, and was selected to be the lead (and solo) facilitator for this program.   At program’s end, Bob will finish in western Russian – which is only a two hour train ride to Finland, so he figured he might as well leave Russia from the western border. If  we’re lucky, we’ll get some updates on this blog during his travels. We wish him the best on his program and further travels to Finland after program’s end.

Outdoor Kids Bill of Rights

04/06/2009
MSI VP Bob Stremba

MSI VP Bob Stremba

MSI Board Member Attends “Kids Outdoors” Conference

Mountain Spirit Institute board member Bob Stremba of Fort Lewis College’s Outdoor Pursuits, Durango, Colorado, recently attended a conference aimed at addressing initiatives of getting children outside more in the natural world.  This  “No Child Left Indoors” initiative has a strong advocate with Colorado Lt. Governor O’Brien who is currently soliciting suggestions in writing Colorado KidsOutdoor Bill of Rights.

Stremba shared his findings at this week’s Mountain Institute staff meeting and asked what others in MSI thought about developing curriculum that can be replicated and offered throughout the USA to schools, summer camps and community recreation programs. Said Stremba, “Colorado residents in communities throughout the state are giving feedback on this exciting intiative. He added, “There are about 8 to 10 sites in Colorado working on this, and there will likely be partial government funding for such programs.” Those at the meeting agreed this direction is a good fit for Mountain Spirit.

Revenge of Gaia
Revenge of Gaia

Founder Randy Richards said Mountain Spirit’s core values focus on body mind and spirit, spiritual experiential education, (or a term coined here “espiriential” education), learning from indigenous wisdom, environmental education, sustainability, social responsibility and service.  He added, MSI was founded on just the values for which the  ‘Kids in the Woods’  iniative is striving.”

Sustainable Communities Programs Director and MSI board member Brenda Dowst mentioned that she has noticed programs “popping up all over”  her region in Nova Scotia,  and said that including the Indian nation people to teach about giving back, the earth, about appreciation and understanding of the earth would be vital to such education.

She also refered to James Lovelock’s book,  Revenge of Gaia, where he warns of the perils of ignoring nature and that our survival of a species, in its present numbers, is in question. She added her reason for bringing up the book in the meeting was that it could serve as a touchstone for moving such programs forward.

Sustainable Communities Director, Brenda Dowst
Brenda Dowst

Colorado Kids Outdoors‘ statement of purpose states it  “is a collaboration among organizations in the public, private and nonprofit sectors for whom the shared goal is increasing outdoor activity for children. The purpose of this effort is to create a comprehensive framework within the State of Colorado to support efforts of many diverse organizations to provide opportunities, environments and infrastructure for children throughout the State to spend significant quality time in the outdoors. The elements of this framework must include:

  • Development and adoption of public policies at the state and local levels that reflects a very high priority for the goal of ensuring that all Colorado’s children, in particular minority and underserved children, have access to safe and healthy, structured and unstructured, outdoor experiences;      (see resources below and.. (more…)

The Adventure, continued

07/03/2009
Wet Socks in the Backcountry

Wet Socks in the Backcountry

The adventurers from Singapore, Shaun Lee and Karan Puri, (see earlier post) took me up on my offer in joining me in New Zealand’s backcountry. I don’t think the two would have ventured out in this territory on their own, in fact they mentioned the whole concept of “backcountry” didn’t exist in their country. Singapore is compact. Their eyes were wide when they first came up on the Rob Roy Glacier after a few miles up a steep trail, after a small swinging bridge. They then made the two hour trek to the Aspiring Hut with me. Their shoes were a bit wet after the hike, but after a warm meal they were feeling great. The following morning, they were on their way back to the trailhead, as they had reservations on the mountain shuttle.  They were a bit nervous, heading out in the rain, but I assured them they would make it. I assume they did! I’ve not heard from them.

‘Gross National Happiness’

07/03/2009
3 cups of Tea

Three cups of Tea

A Mountain Spirit Board member, plus a few others, have been telling me I need to read “Three Cups of Tea”  by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. It’s a great story about persevering a dream of building a school for the children of Korphe, Pakistan. One passage, quoted below, reminds me of how gravitating back to sustainable cultures can make our lives saner. If you’ve not read Three Cups of Tea, I suggest you pick up a copy.
An excerpt from the book that caught my eye: 
“A book he’d read , Ancient Futures, by Helena Norberg-Hodge, was much on Mortenson’s mind. Norberg-Hodge has spend seventeen years living just south of these mountains in Ladakh, a region much like Baltistan, but cut off from Pakistan by the arbitrary borders colonial powers drew across the Himalaya. After almost two decades studying Ladakhi culture, Norberg Hodge has come to believe that preserving a traditional way of life in Ladakh-extended families living in harmony with the land- would bring about more happiness than “improving”  Ladakhis’ standard of living with unchecked development.

Ancient Futures

Ancient Futures

“I used to assume that the direction of ‘progress was somehow inevitable, not to be questioned,” she writes. “I passively accepted a new road through the middle of the park, a steel-and-glass bank where a 200-year-old church had stood…and the fact that life seemed to get harder and faster with each day. I do not anymore. In Ladakh I have learned that there is more than one path into the future and I have had the privilege to witness another, saner, way of life- a pattern of existence based on the co-evolution between human beings and the earth.”
Norberg-Hodge continues to argue not only that Western development workers should not blindly impose modern “improvements” on ancient cultures, but that industrialized countries had lessons to learn from people like Ladakhis about building sustainable societies. “I have seen,” she writes, “that community and close relationship with the land can enrich human life beyond all comparison with material wealth or technological sophistication. I have learned that another way is possible.”
Norberg-Hodge admiringly quotes the king of another Himalayan country, Bhutan, who say the true measure of a nations success is not gross national product, but  ‘gross national happiness.”

Danish Family: “World is our Classroom”

07/03/2009
The Bagers in their "mountain classroom"

The Bagers in their "mountain classroom"

The Danish family of five had headlamps but had decided they didn’t need them.  The moonlight illuminated their way. They left the trailhead around dark and rode their mountain bikes on the single, sometimes double track up the valley, being sure to keep the Matuktuki River on their right. Dennis, the father, aside from briefly looking at the map, was going on memory. He had been in this place some 15 or twenty years prior, but that time he was high above this place, and almost slid off  Cascade Pass on snow covered wet grass, losing his fingernails while self arresting with hands and nose. This return trip had a different sense of adventure. He was returning with his wife Birgette and his three children Manus 10, Rasmus, and their little sister Frederikke, 7.  And this trip was part of a bigger adventure. He and Birgette were about a third of their way through a two year round-the-world educational odyssey with their kids.  They pedaled into Aspiring Hut around 11pm, tip toeing into the hut with their gear, careful not to disturb sleeping climbers and hikers.  I had heard they had just arrived , and what’s more that they had shipped their 1990 VW oversized camper complete with school books and bikes from Denmark through Asia, Australia, and were headed to South America after a good long stint in New Zealand I had to find out more.  The next morning I asked if I could interview them. Dennis jokingly said no but later agreed and even said I could get more info off their website.
MSI: Do you mind if I ask? How are you able to afford to take two years off with your whole family?

Dennis Bager: In Denmark there has been a law that allows either a man or a woman to take a family leave before their child is nine years old. This law has existed for two reasons. (more…)

Rock Flour = Turquoise Rivers

26/02/2009
Wilken River, Makarora BC, NZ

Wilken River, Makarora BC, NZ

Kerin Folks Flat on the Wilkin River is about an hour into an eight-hour trek to the Top Forks Hut area.  I’ll include more images of that area soon, but felt I had to post this image ASAP. “Rock flour” colours the water the brilliant turquoise blue that is visible in this image. Rock flour is a result of the glacier a few miles upriver, dragging and grinding rocks and stones between the bottom of the glacier and the ground. The curious color of the fine powder that comes out of the glacier’s terminus is the subject of many a tourist’s query. So I’ve been told, rock flour is simply mud that hasn’t been exposed to the air.  Once exposed, after a number of years, it turns brown.  In any event it sure makes for good images.  This is probably one of my favorite, even after being a professional photographer for a number of years.

 Top Forks is a remote part of Aspiring National Park, right in the center of the park, accessible from the Makarora West village area.  The highlight of the Top Forks valley is  Mt. Castor and Mt. Pollux from which hanging glaciers drop house-sized ice blocks throughout the day and night, making a roaring sound heard from the hut.

Inspirational People

26/02/2009
Karan Puri & Shawn Lee, Adventurers from Singapore

Karan Puri & Shaun Lee, Adventurers from Singapore

Karan Puri, 18 of Katong Province and Shaun Lee, 19 of Bedok province, Singapore, are not only really nice guys, they’re also inspiring. I’ve run into them here at the the Wanaka Hostel. Right now there  currently out biking around town somewhere. I found their motivation to travel New Zealand so inspiring I thought I’d share it with you.  I interviewed them last night over a beer, out here on the porch from where I write this piece.

Both Karan and Shawn have just finished high school and have about three months off, before they report for the mandatory 2-year military stint that all young men are required to do in Singapore.  When Karan first walked into the hostel I noticed he had a sense of inquiry and interest, not to mention compassion and friendliness. Later, upon meeting Shawn it I got the same sense of adventure and excitement.  They are now on day 6 of their adventure. So here’s some insight as to what brought them to Wanaka, New Zealand.

MSI: So what motivated you two to come to New Zealand?
Karan: To do something before the military. This is the first time on vacation without my parents, and I had been here in Wanaka when I was a child. Something about the place stuck with me. So I wanted to come back.
You see, one never really gets a break to travel if you’ve been brought up in Singapore. (more…)

Power of Place: Utah’s Canyonlands

24/02/2009
Looking W on Island in the Sky, Utah

Looking W on Island in the Sky, Utah

Although I was graduated from the University of Utah, and spent as much time in Utah, as in any other state, I had never been to CanyonlandsNational Park. I recently had the opportunity to kill some time while in Salt Lake waiting for a car repair, and decided to spend a few days and nights in the desert near Moab. My first stop was the Island in Sky. I spent a day exploring the plateau, taking pics, and scrambling among the sandstone outcrops. I miss the Utah desert, although New Zealand is hard to beat.

Navajo Sandstone: Canyonlands, Utah

Navajo Sandstone: Canyonlands, Utah

As an aside, I was driving here in New Zealand from Christchurch to Wanaka, and passed through canyon that reminds me of American Fork Canyon in Utah.  Anyway, after a couple of days on the Island, I did some work in Moab on MSI’s portable office, (the laptop) then moved on to the Needles area in the southern portion of the park. Here one can day hike or spend the night in the backcountry, and even drive around the park, although the latter is not high on my list. Along those lines, read Edward Abbey’s The Monkeywrench Gang, or Desert Solitaire on brilliant views about America’s relationship to wilderness. Oddly, I’m not sure his books have made it here downunder. I’ll keep you posted. 

Island in the Sky, Image:Steve Mulligan/USPS

Island in the Sky, Image:Steve Mulligan/USPS

The Utah desert has a power all its own. So, if you’ve not been I suggest you get there before you die. Put it on your bucket list. For more information on the MSI’s Utah Solo and Wilderness programs, please contact us. The US Park Service has some great resources for Canyonlands

Global Climate Change

23/02/2009
Glacier Calving, NZ

Glacier Calving, NZ

Largest iceberg ‘calved’ in 25 years from Tasman Glacier Terminal Face, Mt. Cook, New Zealand
A three meter tidal wave surging down Aoraki Mount Cook’s Terminal Lake was the first indicator of the largest single iceberg in 25 years calving directly from the Tasman Glacier terminal face yesterday (10 February). The giant slab of ice or ‘calf’, estimated to be 250m long by 250m wide by 80m high, plunged into the Terminal Lake in the early afternoon, the most significant single calving in the lake’s 25-year existence.  A second iceberg about quarter of the size calved from the face shortly afterwards.

Glacier Explorers Operations Manager Bede Ward, whose company takes visitors on boat trips to view the Tasman Glacier face from the water, said the calving happened between trips but made quite a splash.

Terminal face calving

Terminal face calving

Last week passengers onboard Glacier Explorers boat trips witnessed the calving of “The Bomb”, an eight meter wide and 30 meter chunk of turquoise ice.“We thought that took the cake but this new iceberg, is absolutely massive. It supersedes the last significant one named “Sir Edmund Hillary” which calved on January 11, 2008, the same day Sir Edmund Hillary passed away. “We’re getting more and more icebergs now so we’re naming them in order to track and communicate changes and locations.  “Since the Terminal Lake began forming in 1973, the Tasman Glacier’s retreat has noticeably quickened because the lake is expanding all the time and is causing a more rapid melt of the terminal face. I think we may be looking at major calving from the terminal face as an annual event now.”