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Triple C initiative inspires outdoor activity

Nicole McAlee | Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Local youths have a new opportunity to engage in the outdoors through Triple C, an initiative founded by Victoria Lam, a Notre Dame Ph.D. student in biology.
Triple C – which stands for camping, climbing and cameras – is a “501(c)3 backed program that takes a three-pronged approach to connecting youth to the outdoors,” according to the organization’s Facebook page.

The initiative brings together the Notre Dame Climbing Club, the Robinson Community Learning Center and La Casa de Amistad to provide local youths with photography lessons and outings, a stream ecology trip to Juday Creek and a rock climbing trip to Grand Ledge, Mich.

Lam said she was inspired to start the initiative by Lisa Coleman-Puhvel, co-director and chief instructor of Yo! Basecamp, an organization that teaches rock climbing to youths in California.

“I learned that [Coleman-Puhvel] has a wonderful program … serving children from the Tenderloin, an inner-city neighborhood in my hometown of San Francisco,” Lam said. “I found the work of her organization to be incredibly inspiring and felt that engagement in the outdoors would be a wonderful way too reach out to our community here in South Bend.”

Lam said that 15 children from sixth grade to high school are enrolled in Triple C. She works alongside 12 Notre Dame undergraduates who serve as mentors to the kids throughout the program, five graduate students who volunteer on select days of the program, 56 graduate participants in rock climbing training and four graduate and Ph.D. students who serve as instructors in photography and ecology.

“I submitted two grant proposals: one [to the Merrell Pack Project] through Outdoor Nation, a non-profit dedicated to reconnecting millennials with the outdoors … and the other to [Notre Dame] Grad Life [grants program],” Lam said. “Ultimately, we were generously granted funding by ND Grad Life and Merrell Pack Project and were able to provide all the equipment and gear, transportation and digital cameras for the kids to use for the program.”

Triple C was chosen for funding from among 200 grant proposals submitted to Outdoor Nation for being part of the “top five that were most innovative, impactful and sustainable projects focusing on increasing outdoor recreation while also creating significant relationships with the environment,” Lam said.

Lam, who is studying blood stem cell development and maintenance, said Triple C doesn’t tie in directly with her academic interests, but having served as the Philanthropy Chair for the Biology Graduate Student Organization, she has experience with community involvement programs. Lam said students should be inventive when pursuing their own community involvement initiatives.

“In general, I would encourage everyone inspired to start their own initiative to just go out and do it,” Lam said. “There are many grant opportunities available and all you need is an idea you are passionate about and some good friends to help make it happen.”

For more information on Triple C, check out https://www.facebook.com/CampingClimbingCameras.

Contact Nicole McAlee at nmcalee@nd.edu