Climber passes on the outdoor experience to students
October 12, 2006
After learning to climb from the world’s best in Yosemite as a teen, Peter Mayfield is working to make sure today’s youth have the same opportunity.
Mayfield, a Truckee resident and world-class climber, was recently part of an effort to save Camp Four in Yosemite Valley, a place he spent much of his youth learning from and interacting with the world’s foremost free-climbers. Attributing much of his success to that opportunity, he is working to ensure today’s teens can have the same experience with programs like Pass It On!.
“Camp Four gave young lost-souls this great community and group of mentors,” Mayfield said. “That’s why I started Pass It On! to contribute to young people’s relationship with nature.”
Pass it On! is a climbing and outdoor field trip program for students at Sierra High School in Truckee focused on “achieving health, confidence, reflection and growth through the challenge of mountaineering,” Mayfield said.
“One of the key things about climbing is an intense experience of mind-body connected-ness ” even beginners have that,” he said. “And with the students it’s a really positive experience.”
The program started last spring with after-school climbing trips on Donner Summit with eight to ten students, and included a September overnight camping trip to Eagle Lake. Funding came from a grant from the Placer County Health and Human Services department.
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Mayfield said he is also hoping to run a backcountry snow safety course this winter.
Aaron Hagen, a teacher for Sierra High School who has worked with Mayfield on many of the trips, said Pass It On! is a good program for the continuation school.
“It gives teens a healthy alternative. Many of our students had drug problems, so this gives them a healthy lifestyle and a better use of free time,” Hagen said.
Many of the students had never been exposed to climbing, backpacking, or other outdoor sports before this program, Hagen said.
Mayfield said a core-group of students have gotten involved and have been able to teach new students as they join.
“I’m always really inspired by these students, some of them had very difficult times as teens, faced challenges and are coming out the other side,” Mayfield said.
As a mountaineering guide in Yosemite and with his Gateway Mountain Center in Truckee, Mayfield has had a lot of experience working with youth.
“It’s not rocket science, it’s just giving them positive attention, being present and being respectful,” Mayfield said.
Mayfield’s success also comes from his mellow attitude and flexibility in dealing with the students, Hagen said.
An added benefit has been giving students and teachers an opportunity to get to know each other outside the classroom, Hagen said.
Mayfield is also working with the Sierra Club at the Clair Tappaan Lodge on Donner Summit, offering education in California history.
Starting last winter with 130 students from John F. Kennedy High School from Sacramento, Mayfield led excursions and activities teaching both human history in the Sierras and natural history of the area.
“This could potentially be the largest program for me. It’s really growing,” said Mayfield.
During this project, Mayfield approached the developers of Royal Gorge because of their involvement in the area, and began consulting on recreation usage for the development.
“In working with Royal Gorge I am interested in helping the development optimize its relationship with the environment,” Mayfield said.
For more information on outdoor education programs, contact the Gateway Mountain Center at 205-6245.