Teacher in the Backcountry
The Green Mountain College Adventure Education Program has graduated its share of outdoor professionals with the experiential skills to plot a course through the wild, and the social and intellectual skills to lead and instill respect. Junior Ben Halay exemplifies this tradition.
Raised in Cooperstown, N.Y., home of baseball’s Hall of Fame, and the eldest of two boys, “I grew up playing baseball a lot,” he says. Ben also spent a lot of time outdoors exploring his family’s 110 acres and pursuing his passions for snowboarding, whitewater kayaking, hunting and fishing. He feels lucky to have had these experiences, saying, “A lot of people don’t grow up with the opportunity to be outside and discover their relationship with nature.”
Though Ben did well in school, he wasn’t really interested in college. But supported by his parents, he found the adventure education program at GMC and sensed he would like to be a teacher. “Adventure ed is like being a teacher in a backcountry setting, which is what I’m all about,” he says.
Since arriving at GMC, Ben has been an extracurricular fixture. He leads GreenMAP trips whitewater paddling, mountain biking, and backpacking, is in the adventure education club, and is vice president of the dormitory recreation floor. He has certifications as a Wilderness First Responder, a Scuba Open Water Diver and Advanced Open Water Diver, and as an American Canoe Association Flatwater Instructor, which he plans to upgrade to levels 3 and 4 whitewater certification.
Ben will pursue a summer whitewater rafting internship at Fort Carson in Colorado as a paddle instructor, and will continue to hone his skill sets as he becomes a more accomplished teacher and leader. He is unequivocal about the import of his chosen profession, saying, “Nature is a big part of who people grow to become. Developing that relationship, spending time out there, develops a lot of traits we need throughout our lives.”
By Ryan Dixon '11