Bucknell on the Susquehanna has begun! The sounds of the forest began to stir with the coming of dawn, and even though I am not normally a morning person, I was awake well before the sun rose over the horizon. but there is something altogether different about the experience of being in the wilderness. Now the morning of the second day of the Bucknell on the Susquehanna Program, and it has already proven to be an amazing experience.
Between students, three professors, and all of our gear, the small bus that we take from the University campus to the Roaring Creek Field Station is completely packed. The facility is located just below a reservoir that supplies drinking water for much of the coal-mining country that surrounds us, and most of us immediately strike out to explore it. The three -story house, built by the McWilliams family who owned the dam in years past, is now a joint owned facility shared between the PA Dept. of Conservation of Natural Resources (DCNR) and Bucknell. With its wilderness surroundings it is an ideal starting point for our adventure together.
The moon and Jupiter rising together over the lake make for fantastic photographs, and accented by the hooting of screech owls, it is a peaceful and serene beginning for the semester to come.
By late-afternoon, and after rising with the sun, we have spent the morning hiking around the reservoir, picking the remains of summer’s crop of wild blueberries, identifying indigenous and invasive species of plants, and avoiding stepping on the many red spotted newts covering the trail and roads. Then departing from Roaring Creek, our next destination is the low-ropes course at the CLIMBucknell facility to participate in teambuilding exercises that will help us communicate and work as cohesive unit over the coming months.
Several hours later, with our hands roughened by the ropes, we are now a closer as a group, and though tired, are ready for our time ahead. Communication and cooperation will be a very important element of everyone’s experience due to the fact that personal space is something that will be in rather short supply on this program. Our bus barely has enough space for all eleven students and three faculty members, let alone our gear, so the group exercise requiring us fit everyone on a two square foot platform is going to be more literal than some might imagine. We spent several hours breaking barriers of personal space and getting to know each other better, and at the end of the day I believe we are ready for the challenges and opportunities that have been prepared for the experience ahead.