Dirigo Outing Club gets grant for hiking gear

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DIXFIELD — Dirigo High School English teacher Karolyn Buotte was successful again with her application for a grant to help purchase hiking gear for the Dirigo Outing Club.

Teens to Trails, based in Edgecomb, provided 18 high school outing clubs with grants of up to $500. Buotte was able to secure the maximum allowed.

“This time we’ll use the grant for backpacking tents and rain/wind jackets,” Buotte said Wednesday afternoon. The tents will provide space for two hikers each. Six high-quality wind/rain resistant jackets will also be bought.

The remainder of the funds will be used for other equipment needs for the club.

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“High school outing clubs are the most effective way we have found for engaging teens in their natural world, with the potential to make fun (and) safe outdoor experiences accessible to every Maine student,” said Carol Leone, founder of Teens to Trails, in an email.

Buotte said getting outside is particularly important as technology becomes increasingly prevalent, with its associated sedentary lifestyle.

“We want to increase the enjoyment of the outdoors and lifelong activities that require few resources,” she said.

Buotte and co-adviser, math teacher Emily Jorgensen, recently scouted out a potentially new ski/hiking trail by taking a six-hour ski/hiking trip up Mt. Zircon in Rumford. Outing Club members may take that same outdoor adventure later in the year.

The most popular activity for the 30-member group has been sledding down Center Hill in Weld. The club, along with the Ecology Club at DHS, have also gone whitewater rafting down the Kennebec River from West Forks.

The Outing Club plans to go sledding again down Center Hill in late February or early March. Hikes are planned for the future.

A gathering of teens from several high school outing clubs is planned for later this year at Windham High School where students will view an Outdoor Film Festival, which will focus on movies related to being in the outdoors, and attend three outdoor-related workshops.

The Dirigo club has recently developed its logo — which is DOC “written” in birch bark, with the “O” being a compass. The motto is, “One Trail at a Time.” T-shirts reflecting the logo and motto will soon be printed for Dirigo Outing Club members.

Student officers at Dirigo this year are Kate Bonney, a senior who has been a part of the club since its beginning three years ago, junior Sawyer Smith is vice president, junior Seth Tacheny is secretary, and senior Sylvia Lutick is treasurer.

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