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ND team founds children’s outdoors program

| Sunday, April 6, 2014

Photo courtesy of Victoria LamMeg Handelman | The Observer

Notre Dame doctoral biology student Victoria Lam recently founded “Triple C,” a six-week rock climbing program aimed at fostering passion for the outdoors in young students in the South Bend community through a combined effort of graduate and undergraduate students at the University.
Manuel Rocha, a current senior and Notre Dame climbing club president, said the three Cs stand for camping, climbing and cameras.
“The main mission of Triple C is to connect underprivileged youths to the outdoors,” Rocha said. “We hoped that through these activities, the students would develop confidence, leadership and teamwork.”

Photo courtesey of Victoria Lam
In addition to these qualities, he said he hoped the program would also foster life-long knowledge, skills and love for the outdoors.
Although the program focused mainly on rock climbing, Rocha said mentors also introduced students to stream ecology education and photography.
“Our first weekend, the students toured the museum of biodiversity and learned about invertebrates,” he said. “We then went to Juday Creek where Ph.D. candidates in biology taught the students about stream ecology and conservation.”
During the trip to Juday Creek in Granger, Ind., Rocha said the program emphasized teaching the students different ways to act as “stewards of the environment.” Part of the trip included projects where students conducted field studies and designed their own experiments.
Rocha said the program also incorporated a photographic component to expose students to nature and sports photography.
“The students learned basic photography skills from a Notre Dame instructor and were then given a camera for each of the small groups – about three kids per mentor – to take pictures throughout the duration of the program,” he said.
Creating this program required funding, which Lam said she received through a Notre Dame Graduate Life Grant and a Merrell Pack Project Grant from Outdoor Nation.
“I have actually been selected to be a part of the Outdoor Nation Advisory Council and am helping as an university engagement adviser for their upcoming Campus Activation Challenge,” she said.
Through participation in the challenge, Lam said the program could potentially win $5,000 for club sports in addition to an outdoor festival.
Although exact dates for the next program cycle are not currently available, Rocha said students can expect Triple C to take place again in the early fall.
“[Graduate and undergraduate] students can become involved with Triple C by being a mentor,” he said. “Although we did most of our recruiting for mentors though the climbing club, it’s open to all students.”
To join the climbing club email list, Rocha said students can contact ndclimb@nd.edu
As for children who would like to enroll in the program, Rocha said recruitment takes place from the Robinson Community Learning Center (RCLC) and La Casa de Amistad.

CCC web group
“We go there during the summer and give a presentation about the program,” he said. “From there, we see what students are interested in joining. We also work very closely with the directors of both places to make sure that we select students that are motivated and will be a good fit for our program.”
To create this program, Lam said the team also worked with Humberto Delgado, Educational Youth Program Coordinator at La Casa de Amistad and Duane Wilson, Advanced Skills Program Director at the RCLC.
“Our point of contact at RecSports was Dave Brown at Rolfs [Sports Recreation Center], who is in charge of club sports, and I believe he said he was looking into expanding their outdoor recreation initiatives,” she said.
Contact Carolyn Hutyra at chutyra@nd.edu

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About Carolyn Hutyra

Carolyn Hutyra serves as an Assistant News Editor for The Observer. She is a senior from Arlington Heights, Illinois studying Biology and Anthropology.

Contact Carolyn