College Survival Skills

Most college students come to their first day of school prepared with pencils and stuff, but do they think of the really basic things, like flint for starting fires or a Swiss Army Knife for building a primitive shelter? I mean, do they already know how to survive on wild edible plants or purify water using moss and sand and other cool natural stuff? These valuable skills might come in handy on a remote college campus like Marlboro, and they are exactly the kind of thing new students are learning on this year’s Bridges orientation trip called “Shelter, Water, Food, Fire: Rural Living.” Well, that and also how to get along with new friends and work toward common goals even when you are covered with soot, eating bark and drinking water that tastes like moss.

But wait, there’s more. If eating weeds is not your cup of tea, “Rural Living” is just one of 10 Bridges trips being enjoyed by new Marlboro students this week. Sure, there are tried and true options like rock climbing, spelunking, vision questing and pulling weeds on the Marlboro farm. But there are also adventures in the great indoors, like a writing workshop, a study of government and one mysteriously called “Non Sequitors: I damn near bought one (An amusing romp through Sodom and Gomorrah’s rich and juicy sketch comedy tradition).” There is one called “GGGone Fishing: The Search for Monsta Lobsta,” but since they are spending half their time looking for lobsta in Vermont I will not vouch for the leaders’ sense of geography. My favorite one is called “Vermauguration,” which has nothing to do with worms as you might guess. It’s a smorgasbord of Vermont experiences, including hiking, horseback riding, swimming and doing a ropes course. I don’t know if they will learn how to purify water using moss, but now I know who they can ask.