Sunapee students on Outward Bound


Mountain Spirit facilitates 4th year of scholarships for Sunapee H.S. students on Outward Bound.
By Randall Richards

Linnea Circosta on Outward Bound

Linnea Circosta on Outward Bound

Two students from Sunapee High School were the 2009 recipients of Mountain Spirit Institute’s Sunapee High School/Outward Bound Scholarship Program. The two 17-year old seniors were Sean Reidy, and Linnea Circosta who chose different challenge courses both in the western U.S.
This is Mountain Spirit’s 4th year facilitating the connection between Outward Bound USA,  local students, and donors such as Rotary International of New London, NH, and Sugar River Savings Bank, Newport NH.

The courses can be life changing for students who learn about community building, climbing, rafting, mountaineering skills as well as how to be more self reliant and compassionate with others under challenging circumstances.
Mountain Spirit Institute founder Randy Richards has a long history with Outward Bound and considers the scholarship program an opportunity for his organization to give back to his hometown community.

Sean Reidy on Wyo. granite

Sean Reidy on Wyo. granite

Reidy chose the Veedawoo National Park Rock Climbing course which lasted eight days north of Denver in Wyoming’s southern border area where great rock climbing abounds.
Sean had climbed a little before the program –  “Some indoor climbing, but not much outside, ” said Reidy.
When asked if he had any fears or concerns, he mentioned, “When I was younger, heights definitely got me, and on this trip, being away from home was not a big deal, I’d done camps, and this was my second time in my life on a plane.” He added, “flying alone was a concern, but there were signs all over the airport.
“Are you glad you chose a program out west?” I asked.  Reidy responded,  “The weather was great! This was my first time out west,….  No, I did, take a road trip with family but that was four years ago.

“My main motivation for doing this program, I wasn’t sure what to do for a senior project and was already planning on doing Outward Bound, so why not do it as a project as well.”
Sean had heard me speak about Outward Bound when he was  in Sunapee’s Middle school, but didn’t have the  time or the opportunity.   He had actually already wanted to go to OB before his  sister went on a program before him.
“I usually work during the summer, but finally said ‘OK I’m doing,’  and did it.”
His senior project will be called “Learning How to Rock Climb,”
His best memory was a highlight of him climbing a difficult  *5.10b  finger crack with  no foot holds. “ I got up it, but it took a half hour, and it was great.”  He added, I tried a 5.12 and only got off the ground a foot or two. (* Rock climbs are graded 5.1 – 5.14 and up, where 5 stands for “fifth class climbing- requiring a rope.)

Sean Reidy's group

Sean Reidy's group

When I asked Sean what was the most difficult part of his Outward Bound experience, he replies, “It  was a 5.9 and off width crack, six of the ten people in our group got it, and I couldn’t , don’t know why, I just couldn’t . That was the hardest, having to come down.”
I asked, “was there anything about the group that you found challenging?” and he replies,  “All were friendly, and wanted to be there, no person was a downer in the group. We stayed in tents at our basecamp and traveled  each morning to the climbing sites, that was fun.

“What’s the biggest thing you can take away from this trip?” I asked.  “I love climbing, and the people on the trip.. the friendship, and meeting diverse people, one was from London, one from  Washington State, one from Texas and another from Martha’s Vineyard, and even one from Vermont!”

Linnea Circosta, 17, went on the Southwest Colorado River Whitewater Rafting program for eight days from August 7-14th. There were twenty-five people in her group, with four instructors.  When I asked what concerns she had prior to leaving on this adventure, she said, “going across the country, being away from home and doing something new”  that she wasn’t familiar with.
I asked what was her first impression of Outward Bound, how did she feel when she got off the bus. She said she was “very nervous, and wasn’t sure how’d she feel, as a bunch of kids were already there, who had gotten to know each other already. It was a bit intimidating at first, but I quickly became one of the group.”
The hardest challenge Linnea found was being away from civilization, and the way we had to go the bathroom, the food and at times wishing I was in my own bed.  I asked Linnea what was a snapshot of her trip, what was a high point. She said without hesitating, “Our last rapid, it was the hardest one. That was a big moment to remember, because we weren’t sure whether we were going to flip or not. It was so special, there was that adrenaline rush right before.” She added, “one other thing I really liked is at the end we were all like a family. I would really recommend it.
The “take-away” for Linnea was “opening up to new people, appreciating the wilderness and gaining more self-confidence .  Linnea is planning to head back out west for college. She’s applied for Westminster College in Salt Lake City, right next to some of the best skiing in the west.

Mountain Spirit Institute of Sunapee, a non-profit organization running similar programs to Outward Bound’s but with an emphasis on connecting with the environment and community run programs in New Hampshire, the mountain west, Peru and New Zealand. The organization is now in its 11th year. Special thanks go to this year’s donors Sugar River Bank, Rotary International in New London, Paul Krause at LaValley’s  and MSI Board Member Brenda Dowst. For more information on the Mountain Spirit Institute’s Outward Bound/Sunapee H.S. Scholarship Program see the webpage devoted to this program at

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