Five juniors from Gettysburg College are kayaking across the Baltic Sea from Stockholm, Sweden to Helsinki, Finland. The 250-mile self-supported sea kayaking expedition launched June 6 and will conclude in July, after more than a month on the water.
The students are Benjamin Swanson of Lexington, Mass., Emily Heeren of Newton, Mass., Emily Kohlbrenner of Acton, Mass., Haven Whipple of Ojai, Calif., and Stephen Little of Etna, N.H.
“What excites me most about this expedition is the opportunity to take an original spark of inspiration — the mere idea of paddling the Baltic — and turning that into a full-fledged experience,” said Swanson.
Whipple added, “There is no place I would rather be than on the open water, paddling every day from island to island. I am driven by the challenge to accomplish a feat that few people would consider attempting. I am inspired by the opportunity to pursue my studies thousands of miles outside my classroom walls.”
Gettysburg College's Expedition Institute 2012: Baltic Crossing is a culmination of over a years worth of discussion, hundreds of phone calls and emails, countless hours of meetings, contacting and working with multinational businesses, all while trying to learn how to bring a vision to fruition. The students built the trip from ground up, realizing the challenge was handed to them, not the expedition.
“I feel like this project embodies everything I have been working towards for the past three years, and lends me new ways to challenge myself professionally, technically, physically and academically,” said Heeren. “College is meant to give us the proper tools to prepare us for the possibilities of what lie beyond. I am very excited at the prospect of having such an amazing opportunity to test those skills on something that I am passionate about and genuinely love to do.”
Added Kohlbrenner, “I look forward to the physical and mental challenge and I’m so excited to see the Baltic region. I hope to document the chemical pollutants that affect the region so this expedition can spread awareness about rising issues such as carbon emission and cultural eutrophication.”
Gettysburg College’s Office of Experiential Education posed an unprecedented professional development challenge to this group of Gettysburg College juniors: to see if it was feasible to cross the Baltic Sea via sea kayaks from Sweden to Finland. They first needed to determine if this was possible, and then figure out how to make it happen.
“For six months this expedition has been my life. I ate, slept, and breathed Scandinavia,” said Little. “I’m excited to actually eat, sleep, and breathe in Scandinavia.”
Gettysburg College’s Office of Experiential Education, in conjunction with Russell Farrow, owner of Sweetwater Kayaks in Florida, coordinated the Expedition Institute. Nigel Foster, one of the world's most influential sea kayakers and 2008 inductee into the International Kayaking Hall of Fame, and Kristin Nelson, a professional kayak instructor who has circumnavigated many large international waterways, join the Gettysburg College group on the trip.
Gettysburg Recreational Adventure Board (GRAB), part of the Office of Experiential Education at Gettysburg College, focuses on active leadership through backcountry training and expeditions. The Office of Experiential Education brings to life the challenges and rewards that thoughtful preparation, active leadership, & intentional learning can have on one's personal and professional identity. In today's world, a commitment to the self, group, and institution through a shared vision is the catalyst to becoming a successful individual in an increasingly complex and globalized world.
Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
Contact: Nikki Rhoads, senior assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803Posted: Wed, 20 Jun 2012
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