DIXFIELD — Larissa Bryant and Nicholas White, both juniors at Dirigo High School, like getting outside and hiking up the many hills and ledges in the area.

They’ll have others join them with launch of the Dirigo High School Outing Club, a school group started by outdoor enthusiast and English teacher Karolyn Buotte.

“It’s great to have people to do stuff with,” Bryant said. “I don’t want to do these alone.”

“I love the outside and the adrenalin,” White said. “Hiking up Whitecap was so much fun.”

That’s one of the ideas behind the creation of the new club, Buotte said. It’s also another way for young people to connect with their school, she said.

The club’s first outing will be later this month.

About 20 sophomores, juniors and seniors will be the charter members, but many more, including freshmen, are expected to join.

Buotte graduated from nearby Mountain Valley High School. In the 1990s, when she was a student, an outing club was an active student group.

“I appreciated the exposure to the different activities,” Buotte said. She has led overnight Appalachian Trail trips with student and taken several National Park Service wilderness outdoor courses.

“I want to give the kids the same opportunities. There are lots of beautiful spots they don’t know about, and could do alone or with others outside of the club,” she said.

She has used previous outdoor experiences with students and incorporated them into her teaching curriculum.

“I’ve taught about Thoreau and they have kept nature journals,” she said.

The club’s activities will take place outside the school day, most likely on weekends. She’ll be teaching how to pack a backpack, filter water, cook on a camp stove, and other outdoor skills people venturing into the semi-wilderness should know. There will be no tests, quizzes or other school-type requirements. Members of the club will hike, snowshoe or whatever for the joy of it.

She is also working with the district’s health coordinator, Laurie Soucy, for the use of much of the equipment the club members will need. A recent federal Physical Education Program grant provided Dirigo and Mountain Valley high schools with thousands of dollars worth of skis, snowshoes, kayaks, exercise equipment, and most recently, some outdoor camping stoves, water filters and other items.

The cost to the district will be transportation to specific outdoor sites. Buotte is volunteering her time and expertise. She is also seeking a grant that would fund the cost of student transportation.

The Western Maine Regional School Unit 10 board overwhelmingly approved creation of the new club.

In the future, similar clubs may be formed in the Rumford and Buckfield areas of the school system.


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