April 21, 2023 at 4:00:00 PM
Devin Rotz '24
I am currently in my fourth season of Rivers and Trails, and I have always felt that people never view outdoor education programs as something that involves athleticism or exists on the same level as programs that fall within the athletic department. I constantly have to argue my case for what makes MOE programs athletic and challenging. Many do feel that traditional sports are more physically challenging and demanding.
Many of you may have come here to be challenged by one of the athletic programs, but I did not come here for that purpose, nor do I intend to experiment with any of our athletic programs. But that does not mean that those who do not participate in athletics, like myself, don’t want a challenge. The idea of a challenge varies depending on the person, and for me, learning new skills and attempting various outdoor activities is how I’ve decided to challenge myself.
I always hear about MOE programs being made up of the “leftovers”—the people who didn’t get into their first choice PGA and have no other option. In fact, MOE requires an application, and many of the programs are highly selective. But for those who really love the outdoors or just want to try something new, that thought process about MOE is insulting.
Is it even a sport? Yes, MOE programs are sports. What really are the major differences between a traditional sport and a MOE program? We have five practices a week, Saturdays we go on trips to local and/or distant places, and on occasion, we go on trips for multiple nights. On Saturdays we are up early and out hiking, climbing, biking, or skiing, applying the skills we learn throughout our training. We don’t compete for a championship or an M Cup, but, just like any PGA, we practice, learn, and, most importantly, bond as a team.
We learn to work with each other, communicate, and improve individually just like other athletes. Our programs have instructors who encourage us, challenge us, and are there to help us just as much as any coach.
Whether or not my argument changes your view on MOE programs, at least consider how the things that our perceptions and the things we say impact others.
And let’s begin treating MOE with the same respect as all of the Academy’s teams.