We are thrilled to announce that Olivia Ridge will be joining us this summer as our new FLC Wilderness Director. We are confident that Olivia will bring amazing energy and creativity to FLC’s wilderness offerings!
Olivia lives in Minnesota and first came to work at FLC in 2013 to experience the Adirondack’s. At Forest Lake she found a place to combine all of her passions, canoeing, photography, and adventuring in the woods. Her favorite thing about camp is sharing her joy of hiking and camping with amazing people of different cultures and backgrounds.
Below Olivia reflects on her time at FLC and shares with us how excited she is for this new opportunity. Congratulations Olivia and welcome to a long list of illustrious FLC Trip Directors!
Being in the wilderness is part of who I am. I think it is a part of all of us. Getting to work in the outdoors all summer at Forest Lake Camp makes me never want to go inside again. I am constantly searching for ways to have this feeling year-round. One of my favorite authors, Sigurd Olson, perhaps explains it best when he says, “The song of the North still fills me with the same gladness as when I first heard it. More than the terrain, more than the woods, lakes, and forest, it had promise and meaning and sang of the freedom and challenge of the wilderness. I seemed drawn in its general direction as naturally as a migrating bird is by some invisible power toward the stream where it spawned.”
What are you looking forward to sharing with our campers this summer in the Adirondack?
I can’t wait to share the view from the tops of mountains with campers. My first mountain hike was at Forest Lake Camp. As you might imagine, there are no true mountains in Minnesota. I had backpacked rolling hills and portaged miles with a canoe on my shoulders, so I didn’t think twice about my first high peak in the Adirondacks. The challenge of the hike truly surprised me my first summer at FLC. I know that for many of the campers at FLC, camp introduces them to their first mountains as well.
Each hike is a new challenge. It is always steeper than we think it will be. We are always more out-of-breath than we think we should be. And the campers start to ask the familiar “are we there yet” questions. As guides, we always tell them that this will all be worth it when we reach the top. In the moment, even I don’t believe myself. But it is always true. Trips are a balance of challenge and their reward–the overwhelming beauty of nature.
Where did your passion for working, playing, and being in the wilderness begin?
My passion for the wilderness began on canoe trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. I grew up paddling and camping with my parents. It has always been a part of my life. In my childhood, sometimes it felt like something my parents made me do. Then I went to a camp where I got to go on extended canoe trips in remote areas. It wasn’t until camp that it became my own, something that I truly loved.
My first canoe trip for FLC was the summer of 2013. I remember every minute of it. Heather York and I lead the best team of girls including Meghan Cullen, Quinn DiFalco, Anna Gottesman, Caroline Ross, and Marie-Eve and Emily Rousseau on a one-night trip on Saranac Lake. We ate an entire jar of nutella, spent the afternoon cliff jumping and rope swinging, and paddled in cold rain. That night, we sat on a tree jutting out from the water and star gazed in total silence. In only one night, we bonded as a group (enough to create our own Facebook page) and had a perfect wilderness experience. A memorable trip has high moments of crazy fun, intense paddling, and hopefully a rope swing, and quiet moments of reflection. This had everything, and more.
If you could inspire campers to sign up for a wilderness outing at FLC, what would you tell them?
I’ll probably just send them to the junior girls, only they could explain why they couldn’t get enough of hikes in summer 2014. Once a camper feels enough positive-peer pressure to sign up for them, the hikes really speak for themselves. Or I can show them a photograph of the 360 degree views from the top of Cascade Mountain.