Canoes, Hikes, and Camaraderie: Alliance for Watershed Education Fellowship Orientation at PEEC

Wendi Wu
Jul 1, 2024

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Written by Naja Jackson, TTF Alliance for Watershed Education (AWE) Fellow

 

The 2024 Fellowship Orientation at the Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC) was an unforgettable three-day event that brought together fellows with a shared passion for community impact and environmental stewardship. This immersive experience was designed to foster teamwork, build lasting connections, and introduce the fellows to the natural beauty and biodiversity of the Poconos. Through a series of engaging activities, including icebreakers, canoeing, hiking, and DEI workshops, participants developed a strong sense of camaraderie and left with a renewed commitment to their shared mission. Here’s a recount of our adventure-filled days at PEEC.

 

Anticipation was all I felt on the days leading up to the 2024 Fellowship Orientation. I had not been to the Poconos before, and I was about to be in a new place surrounded by new people. When we arrived at the PEEC center, the other fellows and I introduced ourselves and then took a short hike to various icebreaker activities.

The icebreakers encouraged us to work in teams and cooperate with each other. My favorite activity was one where we had to join hands and climb through a spiderweb of rope without dropping sticks that rested at the top of the webbed net. I enjoyed this activity the most because, although it was slightly uncomfortable, joining hands with these strangers reminded me that we are all just people with the same goal of making a difference in our communities.

After an afternoon of icebreakers, we went canoeing, which was arguably one of the more exciting experiences at the orientation.

Fellows enjoying a canoeing adventure on the lake. ©️Naja/TTF

We finished up the first day with dinner and conversing in the picnic area outside of our yurts. For the second day of the orientation, we had a watershed activity scheduled where we hiked to a lake and caught some frogs, tadpoles, and invertebrates.

A salamander spotted during the watershed activity. ©️Naja/TTF

We had lunch and dinner afterward, which were some of the best times to chat with the fellows, talking more about our personal experiences and interests. We ended the night exploring a trail on a night hike. During the night hike, we activated our natural night vision and did two activities. The first consisted of us looking at a colored poker chip and guessing the color in the dark; then, by the end of the hike, we took out our flashlights to review the real color. For the second activity, we were given Lifesaver peppermints and bit down on them really hard, causing a spark in our mouths. It was one of the coolest things I had ever seen, a trick I intend on bringing out to parties to show my friends. The fellows and I took a lot of cool pictures during the hike, and by this time, we felt bonded more than we’d ever thought possible in two days.

   

Canoes resting by the water during a peaceful afternoon. ©️Naja/TTF

The third and final day was bittersweet. We did a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) activity where we were able to reflect on our time at the orientation. We also did a spoken word exercise where we wrote and shared our own poetry. This part of the orientation was another experience that stuck with me during the trip. By the end of the orientation, every fellow exchanged contacts, and now we are planning beach trips together. I could have never imagined that in just three days, I could make 16 new friends!

 

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