Another pack to be stuffed, another string of late nights by the campfire, another rowdy crew to accompany, and more wilderness to explore. My third extended adventure with the University of Dayton’s Outdoor Adventure Club (OAC) did not disappoint, which came as no surprise. This time around was a 4-night, 3-day camping and hiking trek mainly through the Finger Lakes National Forest, located in upstate New York.

Historically my posts about OAC adventures have been a bit nature preachy, almost as if a large, green, leaf-covered hand were trying to transcend the screen upon which you were reading the post and drag you straight into a forest. But quite frankly I believe the preachy demeanor was warranted, and I’m not sure how it couldn’t be after spending four full days in the wilderness. In the ending of one of my posts I urge the reader to find a connection to the outdoors, for nature may just come up and “tickle your ear.” Perhaps a mere testimonial is more fitting.

My semester leading up to the fall OAC extended adventure has been nothing short of absolutely hectic. I’ll forego the details, but I have a lot of things on my plate. If my current situation paralleled to my family dinner table, I’d not only need to finish the hefty portion of food left on my own plate, but also the remnants of my sister’s next to me, while my mother simultaneously tugs on my shoulder asking if I’d like to finish hers as well. There’s a lot going on! It’s fair to say that I did not only want to go on this OAC trip, but I needed to go.

Without a care in the world, I found myself running through the forest like I had when I was twelve. To feel the crisp autumn air pumping through my lungs in the sunlight was to go home. An underlying sense of calmness glazed over me as I explored the forest and interacted with my crew of rugged nature-loving goofballs.

Per every other OAC excursion I’ve experienced, I was politely smacked in the face with a host of warm and comical personalities. It was a group that swung from the lowest, and highest, tree branches, dipped in the Finger Lakes, and spoke deep into the night over glowing firewood embers. They provided me with almost as much life as the crisp forest air I so longed to breathe. OAC trips are not just about the landscape, but also the souls in which you share that landscape.

The remainder of the fall semester’s contents will undoubtedly challenge how much I can handle at once, or how much I can handle on my dinner plate without anything toppling over onto my lap. However, I’ve found a surge of strength and focus from my time spent in the outdoors with the OAC. Its given me memories I will never forget, and has been remedial for my overall well-being beyond anything I could have imagined.

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