“Spring Break” at Wyoming Catholic is probably not what you’re expecting

This week serves as yet another reminder of just how unusual it is to be a student at Wyoming Catholic College: It’s “Spring Break Week” here in Lander, but I can assure you that the reality behind that phrase is not at all what you might expect. It is a week away from the classroom, yes, but rather than spending it on the beaches of Miami or the resorts of Cancun, our students spend it in the beauty of nature, immersed in God’s First Book.

As our catalog says, “to ensure that students have opportunities to grow in their knowledge of creation and their constant development of leadership skills, the College’s curriculum requires an extensive program for every student during all four years.” The 21-day trip every freshman must undertake upon arriving in Lander is probably the most well-known feature of the College’s Outdoor Program, but its directors have always searched for ways to build upon that foundation.

The solution?

“Outdoor Weeks are scheduled five times each year and seasonally spaced. During an Outdoor Week, which runs from Saturday through Saturday, there are no academic classes and no large papers or projects assigned. This pause permits students to immerse themselves completely in the outdoor experience, allowing them to take full advantage of all the learning that occurs in the wilderness setting. The majority of these trips are led by upperclassmen who have been trained in peer leadership, though for trips involving specific technical skills, the College will sometimes use a professional instructor.”

This Spring, fifteen separate trips went out from Lander, including 155 students and 15 members of the College’s faculty and staff: whitewater rafting and kayaking on Oregon’s Owyhee River; flatwater kayaking on Utah’s Lake Powell; a packrafting trip and a canoeing trip through Labyrinth Canyon in Utah, where participants speak only in Latin; two canyoneering groups near Hanksville, Utah; a pair of rock climbing excursions and a pair of “desert multi-adventure trips (backpacking, climbing, and canyoneering)” near Moab; advanced rock climbing near St. George, Utah; mountaineering in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains; mountain biking and a men’s retreat in the desert near Fruita, Colorado; and for a small group of students staying behind in Lander, an intensive, week-long workshop to put on a production of Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure.”

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