Thursday, December 21, 2006

Solstice Weather

Shortest day..longest night.. Light the bonfires! Hail the sun!

Lots of time for reflection on these long cold nights.
There are so many ways to measure our days.. by the number of hours , minutes and seconds that the sun stays above the horizon... or by the amount of daily warmth/cold that is felt.. or by what we have chosen to make of the day.. (hmm.. that could be a song..)

Over this past year of 2006, we've had the privilege of working with well over 10,000 people.. from bankers and corporate executives, to AmeriCorps volunteers and public health providers, to exceptional children who live with challenges that many of us cannot even imagine.

Our measurable successes include "our" US Challenge team from Bechtel.. After dominating the national competition in October, they moved on to the World Championships in Malta just two weeks ago. Our work with them, besides producing the obvious world class athletic results, helped raise more than $60,000.00 for St. Judes Childrens Hospital... wow, that is an easy reflection.

Not so easy to reflect on are some of the non-measurable results and, hopefully, successes... The kids who go "home" to a car (after our programming with them..) or those who do not celebrate birthdays, Thanksgiving or Christmas outside of school... because there just are not enough resources to do so.

As I sit in the office behind my keyboard looking out at the weak winter sun and the birds on the feeders, holiday messages and decorations in all directions.. all these thoughts and reflections make me restless...

Time to throw another log on the fire, then go for a long run up the mountain... that old sun can't come back soon enough.

May each of you who read this have a relaxing, low stress holiday and a great New Year! Remember to count your blessings. We hope to see you and spend time with you in 2007.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

And just like that, the season slips away...

and the leaves change and the frost forms
and soon it's back to the days of waiting.

So much to catch up on.. gear to clean and sort.... Fall is on us.
And even though the postings are weeks (months?) out of date.. they remind us of
the good things ahead.


Weekends were made for...

.....36 hours of pre-race training.
In mid September, Team Bechtel / US Challenge assembled in the predawn chill and fog to run through a multi-phase adventure and team challenge. The legendary mountainous, rocky, single track terrain of Gambrill was the principle setting for the dry land phase of training. (The water phase would follow a day later on the nearby Potomac)

Orienteering challenges, technical mountain biking, overcoming team obstacles, and solving complex communication and leadershi
p tasks were all key training objectives

The ultimate goal was to be prepared for any and all challenges that may be encountered on the 3-day course in October, (and to identify and address any possible training deficiencies). So away we went...

down the trails, over the ridges..

...and of course up and over..

... all against the backdrop of mid-September color.
Team Bechtel

Monday, October 16, 2006

Leading into the backcountry...

As we've done for the past 5 years, we were pleased to, again, have The George Washington University Outing Club (TRAiLS) guides spend a week with us in the backcountry of Shenandoah National Park.
Backcountry Trip Leadership is the theme for the week, and we live and practice everything from Leave No Trace travel and camping to meal planning and preparation, to backcountry medicine, land use regulations, emergency medical evacuation planning... and how to swim in a backcountry swimming hole... (with gusto!).

At the end of the week, the (already great) guides are ready for anything and everything! Plus the bonds formed during a week in the mountains will carryover into a year of top level adventure activities for GW students.

This trip, now an annual event, always signals the end of summer... and with that comes the frenzy of butterflies to the last of the wildflower nectar... within a week, the flowers will be gone, and the hollows shrouded in the morning mists of autumn.

(photos courtesy of Chad Heddleston)

Monday, September 25, 2006

When two forces join, the impact is often greater than the sum of the two operating independently...a force multiplier.

As we step into the shorter days of Fall and we collect the images and recollect the times of summer (our 14th!), what a summer it was! Particularly for youth programming. From May thru the end of August we had the opportunity to join with:
- Boy Scouts from Shenandoah Area Council;
- Girl Scouts from the Girl Scout Council of the Nations Capital;
- Wakefield (The Plains) School's Discovery Week;
- Frederick (MD) YMCA;
- Parks and Recreation departments from Frederick and Clarke Counties in northwestern VA, and of Frederick County, MD;
-The SGA from Rappahannock County High School (working in paradise!)
- Camp Pecometh (serving the DelMarVa region Methodist church);
- Summer school students from Washington County MD;
- New/incoming students at Washington DC's SEED public charter school;
- The Frederick Co (VA) Sherriff's youth camp;and, especially,
- Various family/child advocacy and social services organizations (Department of Social Services [DSS], Office of Children and Families [OCF] and Community agency School Services [CASS]) from northern and central MD.


The last category (DSS, OCF, CASS), of all the groups we served, was perhaps the most totally demanding and certainly the most fulfilling. On that point the entire Teamlink staff agrees.

Whether exploring the macroinvertebrate wonders of the river, floating, splashing, playing..

or climbing WAY beyond and out of their comfort zone...

or just sitting, talking and laughing, sharing time and space with a friend..

the kids we shared our summertime with, just maybe, will never be the same.

..and, because of them and with thanks, we will not be the same, either.

Friday, September 15, 2006

To Build a team...

In May of this year we were contacted by a team of engineers and project managers from Bechtel Engineering in Frederick MD. It seems they were entered in the US Challenge and wanted to get a leg up on the competition.. with less than a little hesitation, we jumped on the opportunity.
(We had partnered with Bechtel in the past on youth development and mentoring programs, so we knew that if they were behind it, they would be committed to it.)

Now to back up a bit, the US Challenge is a fundraiser for St Judes Hospital.. Each team raises money and all of the proceeds from the competition go to support programs for children and toward medical research for childhood diseases. (For more information, see )This was pretty much a no brainer for us.. a cause we could really sink our teeth into. For the team, it was a significant commitment to a lot of training and skill acquisition. We were honored to be asked to help. (We'll be more honored when the team wins!)

Billed as "intelligent sport", the US Challenge is basically an adventure race geared toward professionals who typically do not have unlimited training time.. The challenges require significant creativity and problem solving , as well as plain old physical determination and basic skill proficiency.

Our team is a group of mostly 20-something really bright folks. They are also pretty darn good athletes.. and together, our training program has been an enriching journey in so many ways. As a team, we have raised well over $12,000!!! But also as a team we have developed some real bonds of cameraderie, trust, respect and friendship.
(The opening image is a group from Bechtel who attended a rock climbing fundraiser.. earning the team well over $1000.00 on a Saturday morning. THANK-YOU!)

So, since beginning in June we have been getting together to train twice weekly. We started with the basics: a foundation of solid fitness and aerobic capacity, basic skills, including: knot tying, land navigation (on foot,bike and water), mtn biking technique, paddling technique, communication skills and techniques, survival, trail running, first aid etc, and have been increasingly progressing through more complex tasks. This week we built and utilized a tyrolean traverse across a chasm in our local rock... by headlight. On Saturday morning, as the sun comes up and most people are just having their first cup of coffee, Team Bechtel will be thrashing thru the woods completing an off-trail, multi-leg compass course with each leg at least 1 mile in length.

We'll be doing a running commentary as we proceed to the competition dates in mid October. check back often..