Chelan Project introduces kids to outdoor recreation opportunities

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by Richard Uhlhorn

The locations are iconic, beautiful and rugged. Places like the Enchantments, Maple Pass, White Pass, Gardner Mountain. These are places revered by outdoor recreationists.

For April Slagle, a high school teacher at Chelan, these places offer an excellent opportunity to introduce high school students to the joys of outdoor recreation like backpacking, cross-country and alpine skiing, rock climbing, hiking and snowshoeing.

“I wanted to start an outdoor club,” said Slagle. For three years, April has been advising the members of the Chelan Project, an Associated Student Body leadership organization focused on promoting and enhancing outdoor recreation, service in the outdoors, sustainable design and school culture.

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Leo Rosas is this year’s Chelan Project President

Currently, Chelan Project is 110 members strong. The Club President is Leo Rosas who says he loves connecting with nature. “It gives us appreciation. It also relieves stress,” stated Rosas who is juggling his duties as President and the outdoor activities with his wrestling and academics.

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Six Chelan Project members and advisor April Slagle get ready to ski seven miles into the Methow Valley’s Rendezvous Hut for an overnight trip.

The Rendezvous Hut is seven miles into the North Cascade Mountains
from the Methow Valley Trail Head.

Rosas and a group of club members recently took an overnight cross-country ski trip to the Rendezvous Hut in the Methow Valley near Winthrop. The group skied seven miles into the hut, stayed overnight and skied back out the next day. “Apart from slipping and sliding it went terrific,” said Rosas. The group was rewarded with stunning star scapes and mountain views. In January, 2020, it is the girls turn for the same trip.

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Each year the entire club heads to the Methow Valley for an adventurous cross-country skiing and fat tire mountain biking experience.

The entire club heads to the Methow Valley to cross-country ski and ride fat bikes. Many of the trips are for smaller groups. The boys trip to Rendezvous Hut include six plus April. “The hut is really small, so it’s a tight fit for more than six.

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Backpacking into the North Cascades Wilderness areas like Cutthroat Pass and Maple Pass is a way to introduce Chelan Project members the joys of outdoor recreation. Something they will take away from high school and enjoy for the rest of their life.

Club members have also hiked the 7.8 mile long Maple Pass Trail Loop near Stehekin. This trail opens up tremendous mountain vistas and is a great hike. Other trips have included hikes into the Enchantments and overnight backpacking trips. They have also visited and hiked the Wolf Creek Trail near Port Angeles. “We try to take a trip every quarter and have weekend trips,” said Slagle.

Rosas said that trips have also included a backpacking trip to Cutthroat Pass which is accessed off Hwy 20 and offers stunning scenery in some of the most scenic land in Washington State.

“I like to be out with the kids,” said Slagle. The group is currently planning a trip to the San Juan Islands and the Olympics as a class environmental trip. “The kids do all of the planning,” explained Slagle. “It’s all hands on deck.”

While introducing the group to the beauty of Washington’s outdoors and teaching them new outdoor skills, the Chelan Project Club is also a service club. “One group of about 30 or 40 kids helped to build trail at Echo Ridge. It’s a way of giving back,” said Slagle.

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Chelan Project members have an opportunity to learn rock climbing at
Wenatchee’s Riverfront Rock Gym. 

In addition to outdoor trips, the group has been introduced to rock climbing at Wenatchee’s Riverfront Rock Gym. The only activity the group doesn’t engage in is mountaineering or water activities.

Chelan Project is a diverse club with an equal group of girls to boys with the diversity of Caucasian and Latinos (54/46). Fifty-five girls belong to the group.

Most of the kids pay a fee to belong and the club conducts fund raisers for trips and other activities. But skiing, biking, backpacking, hiking, rock climbing all comes at a price. Instrumental in helping fund this group is the Lake Chelan Multisport Foundation whose mission is to embrace healthy lifestyles through support of arts, literature, science, and wellness programs for the youth in the Lake Chelan Valley. The foundation is funded through proceeds from the annual Chelanman Multisport Weekend held in July.

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“They have supported us over the past three years,” said Slagle. “It helps kids that can’t afford to be involved and we want everyone who wants to be involved… involved.” The funds are also used to purchase outdoor equipment such as backpacks, sleeping bags and other miscellaneous gear.

The club’s primary goal is to teach kids to be passionate about the outdoors, recreation and service to the community.

Advisor: April Slagle: slaglea@chelanschools.org

Chelan Project Officers 2019-2020

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Left to Right: Jonathon Gonzalez, Leo Rosas, Ashlyn Sanderson, Ruby Weir, Ringo Renteria, Iava Duenas and Miguel Neri.

Club President: Leo Rosas

Coordinator of Coordinators: Ashlyn Sanderson

Field Trip Coordinators: Ruby Weir & Jonathan Gonzalez

Volunteer Coordinators: Odaliz Ordaz & Ivan Duenas

Communications Coordinators: Ivan Duenas, Jonathan Gonzalez &Laura Montoya

Finance Coordinators: Miguel Neri & Ringo Renteria

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