CALAIS _ What happens when Texas and Maine collide?
You end up with a weekend of fun.
Earlier this year, officials at the University of Texas at Tyler contacted the Washington County Community College’s Outdoor Adventure Center to see if it could provide some activities for members of the university’s Cross-Country Team. Each year, the Texas runners spend two weeks participating in a team- building experience.
According to its web site, the University of Texas at Tyler is part of the University of Texas System that includes nine university and six health institutions located throughout the state. Founded in 1971, Tyler has about 7,000 students. The 258-acre Tyler campus sits along a lake, surrounded by thick pine and oak forests, providing a picturesque location for study and recreation, the web site added.
In March, the university’s Coach Bob Hepler, who owns a home at Indian Lake in Whiting, contacted Chris Woodside, director of WCCC’s Outdoor Adventure Center to see if something could be arranged.
Woodside agreed. “They wanted to know what we could offer them,” Woodside said. “And I knew we had a lot to offer.”
The coach was not interested in any kind of couch-potato activities for his runners, but rather a real Texas-sized competition that included both land and water experiences that had his students sweating and gasping for breath when they were done. “We came up with the idea of an Adventure Race,” Woodside said.
On Saturday, July 27, the 24 Texas men and women athletes and their coaches canoed, mountain biked and swam in some serious, but fun competition. “For the last competition, as is only in Maine, they went blueberry picking. A first for many. So it was a pretty exciting day,” Woodside said.
Because the coach and his staff appreciated Woodside’s efforts they invited him to participate.
The morning began with a canoe race on Indian Lake to the boat landing on the other side of the lake. “One team member had to get out, do some jumping jacks, and then get back in,” he said.
After the canoe race the students than went on a 15 mile mountain-bike trip and after that a five mile run. “They finished off with a canoe/swim,” he said. To round out the competition they had to pick 33 blueberries. “If you had more or less, the team would be disqualified, but all the teams had the right amount,” Woodside said.
Woodside said his team started out in the lead, but then fell way behind. “At the start of the race, the two athletes sitting in the middle slipped and the canoe tipped and water was coming in and we lost the coach over the side,” Woodside said with a chuckle. “We got the coach back in the canoe while the two in the middle began bailing water, including one who used his shoe.”
After some lucky breaks, Woodside’s team won.
The next day, Woodside said, the athletes boarded sea kayaks for a trip through Cobscook Bay with Maine guides Steve and Tess Ftorek of Cobscook Hikes and Paddles. “It was a great opportunity for them to see some of Maine. They saw bald eagles and we even got in a group of seals that followed us,” he said.
Woodside said he plans to reach out to other colleges and universities and create similar experiences. He also said that if area businesses or family groups wanted to hold similar events for their employees or families, his department would schedule them for a fee.
“We have all of this expertise to run these programs so bring your group to us, or bring us to you to do these types of activities,” he said.
For more information contact Woodside at 207-454-1068 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org