Warm weather, the rhythm of taking only one class and opportunities to travel are just a few reasons why May Term is a major highlight of the academic year for many students.However, students are not the only ones who enjoy mixing it up for the last for three weeks of the school. This year Val Hershberger, associate professor of physical education, will put her passion for the wilderness to work as she leads the biennial Boundary Waters canoe trip through the acres of lakes and trails on the Minnesota-Canada border.
The Boundary Waters trip began in 2000 and ran for four consecutive May Terms. In 2003, the physical education department decided to only offer the course every other year. The trip is two weeks long, with the first week spent at Wilderness Wind, a Mennonite camp in Ely, Minn., doing coursework, volunteer work and orientation, in addition to practicing skills for the canoe trip that constitutes the second week of the class.
This year’s trip still has ten remaining spots, and Hershberger would love to fill them. For full-time students living on campus, there is only a $150 deposit. All of the camping and canoeing gear is included in regular tuition.
Hershberger attended Eastern Mennonite University, where she studied camping and recreation, and she has been enamored with the idea of experiential learning ever since. She strives to create a class and learning environment that is hospitable to students from all walks of academic life.
“I value interests, strengths and passions that students from all disciplines have to offer, and I encourage them to mesh those with what the wilderness has to offer,” Hershberger said. In this way, students have a unique opportunity to welcome both the physical challenges of the canoe trip as well as the inspiration of the pristine environment around them.
Other off-campus May Term classes include Arts in London, Business in Spain, History of the Southwest, Anabaptist Mennonite History in Paraguay, Marine Biology and Biology of the Sea. So far, 127 GC students are signed up for these courses.