ELISHA VALLADARES-CORMIER & CINDY WOLFE
SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER & STAFF WRITER
Last Saturday, students who set out for the trails of the Fernwood State Forest had a special guest to lead them: Bishop Jeffery Monforton of the Diocese of Steubenville.
Twenty-eight students attended the hike, the first of the year for the Outdoors Club, which is getting back on its feet after being inactive last year until late in the spring semester.
Martin Wolk, Outdoors Club president, commented on the high turnout, saying, “It is a good sign for the rest of the semester.”
Wolk said Bishop Monforton was actually the one that approached him about coming on the hike, and not the other way around.
“Once we got up and running again last year, we got a call from the bishop’s secretary. Somehow, he had gotten wind of our activities, and he asked if we would let him come along on our next trip,” said Wolk. “Of course, we said yes.”
Senior Rocco Palumbo had introduced the trail to Wolk before and was very pleased with the result, saying that there was an amazing turnout and the weather was absolutely beautiful for the hike.
The hike was approximately two hours both ways. Students chatted while they hiked up the numerous hills and enjoyed glimpses of the serene beauty of Fernwood State Forest.
At the end of the trail, the group gathered at an overlook to hold a Lord’s Day celebration. Bishop Monforton read the Gospel and shared a short reflection. He shared St. Teresa of Calcutta’s quote, “We can do small things with great love.”
As an act of thanksgiving, the students meditated on the beauty of God’s creation. Bishop Monforton said, “I could sense the prayerfulness of the students.” The hike was not just an athletic event, it was a “pilgrimage of Christian hearts.”
Students shared their favorite parts of the hike. Freshman Erica Baker said the hike was a good break from school and the Lord’s Day celebration gave her a “second to be quiet and reflect on the beauty of God’s nature.”
Junior Sarah Negri said, “It was nice to get off campus and into nature.”
Of the 28 students on the hike, many of them were freshman, showing promise for the rest of school year. They enjoyed the opportunity to connect with one another off campus.
Club president Wolk said that this is one of the three goals of the Outdoors Club.
“Our first goal is to connect student with similar interests in the outdoors,” said Wolk. “Secondly, we want to introduce people to the outdoors that have never had a chance to experience it before, and most importantly, have people come to know God more by experiencing his creation in the beauty of nature.”
There is no set membership, save for a core group of leaders who plan the events that are then open to any students interested.
Wolk said that the club hopes to hold several more hikes and camping trips this semester and then start to focus on longer, more intense hikes farther away, in places like West Virginia. Plans for the spring semester include skiing, whitewater rafting and more hikes.
Wolk hopes that people take the chance to enjoy the outdoors, even if it’s not with the Outdoors Club, “because it is a great experience and allows us to connect with God’s beautiful creation.”