As summer comes to an end, most students recall spending their time relaxing without the pressures of school. However, for these four students, spending the summer in Upper Arlington was out of the question. Their unique experiences reflect the diverse interests of the student body.
By Alison Gilbert, ’11 and Hannah Jochem, ’10
When junior Charlie Coons was approached by his cousin to do a half Ironman triathlon in Calgary, Alberta, he instantly agreed, knowing that he was in for the race of his life. A half Ironman triathlon consists of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.2-mile run.
“Swimming was the easiest,” Coons said. “And running was by far the hardest.”
To prepare for this type of race, Coons swam regularly and alternated biking and running throughout the week.
“Anyone can do it if they train,” Coons said. His training paid off when he came in 71st out of 1700 participants in the swimming segment of the race.
Completing the triathlon was his greatest reward, though Coons laughed and said, “I’m definitely ‘one and done.’”
Spending her summer selflessly, freshman Madeline English journeyed to the small Caribbean island of Haiti on a mission trip with her church, Upper Arlington Lutheran.
“We were able to help out in the community by hosting a Bible school for first and second graders,” English said.
English said that even though the locals spoke Creole, there was not a barrier due to the help of translators. English fondly remembers getting to know and playing with the native children. The children allowed the group to understand the Haitian culture and helped the volunteer’s faith to grow at the same time, English said.
Her only regret was that the trip did not last longer. With a note of encouragement to others looking to do mission work, English said, “Be ready to do a lot of work, but have a lot of fun.”
After hiking across the coast of California the summer before her junior year, senior Laura Hoffman decided to give it another go—this time through the rough terrains of Alaska. For 24 days, Hoffman participated in ice climbing, backpacking, whitewater rafting and sea kayaking in the mountainous region, described by Hoffman as dramatic with abrupt changes in elevation. According to Hoffman, the weather, cold at night, was pleasant during the day, sometimes even setting record highs.
Hoffman went on her own, but joined a group of strangers along with four experienced instructors from the program Adventure Treks, to partake in this once in a lifetime experience.
Hoffman said, “I got to be part of a really close community and develop meaningful relationships with people I otherwise would have never met.”
As far as advice for fellow adventurous souls, Hoffman said, “Come prepared to be open and allow yourself to be vulnerable to try new things and experiences.”
If trekking across the mountainous Alaskan terrain does not sound like a relaxing vacation, maybe an African safari would be more appealing. Just ask junior Courtney Burgtorf, who embarked on a 17-day long journey through the African grasslands.
“Our trip allowed us to spend 10 days in Kenya and four days in Tanzania,” Burgtorf said.
Her family regularly went on guided jeep tours with a knowledgeable guide. According to Burgtorf, these jeep tours, also known as game drives, allow tourists to get within five feet of animals which many people will only see in zoos.
Despite being so close to dangerous and sometimes aggressive wild animals, Burgtorf said, “I felt safe and the staff knew what they were doing.”
Her favorite memory was taking a hot air balloon ride over the grasslands of Kenya.
“You could see the great migration of thousands of wildebeest and zebra [and] at 1000 feet, seeing the sunrise over the African plains was breathtakingly beautiful,” Burgtorf said.
After meeting the local Masai tribe, Burgtorf said, “I gained a respect for the native culture and realized a great appreciation for basic everyday things, such as water and electricity.”