By Chelsey Shannon
The LandSea program has been an integral part of the Kalamazoo College experience since 1974. Each August, a large group of incoming first-years head into the wilderness with heavy packs, hiking boots and a group of strangers who often become close friends for the rest of their college years.
The program has taken place in Ontario’s Killarney Provincial Park each summer — but this summer will be different. Due to changes in K’s school-year start date, it was necessary to switch to Algonquin Provincial Park, which is six-to-eight-times larger than Killarney, according to LandSea Coordinator Tyler Manegold.
With the new location has come a new LandSea director, Jory Horner. The program has also made smaller structural changes, including the replacement of climb and rappel with whitewater rafting, a larger number of smaller patrols and more student facilitators, according to senior Rosanna Shoup, a LandSea guide. Also new this June is a mini LandSea trip accessible to K students of any year, as initiated by Jory Horner, who wanted “to expand the LandSea experience from a one-time experience for incoming Freshman to something that is accessible to more and more in the K College community.”
For many former participants, administrators and leaders, leaving Killarney is a bit like saying goodbye to an old friend. As Horner put it, “ I also think that it is unfortunate that we are losing the shared history that everyone who has participated in LandSea since 1976 has with each other, regardless of if they went on the trip in 1980 or just last year. However,” he added, “it is also very exciting that this will be the first year of what will hopefully continue to be a new shared history in this new park.” Many people — especially the recently chosen 2011 leaders — are equally excited about the prospect of a brand new park for the program.
According to Shoup, the selection and application process is no small feat.
“The LandSea staff [and the selection committee] look for leaders who are team players, embody the LandSea philosophies such as ‘lead from behind’ and ‘challenge by choice,’ have shown themselves to be reliable and responsible in their collegiate life and love the wilderness and the LS program,” she said.
Manegold added that leaders should possess “maturity, sensibility, responsibility, a personable character, intelligence and experience.” Although more leaders than ever were selected for next year, selection was difficult because a large number of applicants were eligible for the job. Shoup encourages turned-away applicants to reapply for next year’s program.
Those selected have many reasons to anticipate next year’s program.
“I’m really excited to experience LandSea in a completely new way,” said first year Emma Dolce, “both because I’m going to be a leader for the first time and because we aren’t going to be in Killarney.”
“I think the new changes are exciting and are going to make LandSea a completely new experience than it has been before for both leaders and participants,” said first year and fellow first-time leader Lucas Kushner.
Reasons for applying to be a leader range from a love of backpacking and nature to the desire to give back to the community.
First years Alex Subbaraman and Manuel Garcia both said that they want to facilitate a similar experience for other incoming first years because the LandSea program was such a valuable opportunity for them.
“I matured and grew significantly as a result of LandSea,” Subbaraman said. “After having the past year to reflect on my experience, I am ecstatic to now have the opportunity to nurture a similar change in others.”