AORE Association News June 2015 - Page 9

A Unique Spring Break Trip Albert Mitugo SMU Outdoor Adventures Senior Coordinator , Southern Methodist University AORE Board of Directors This past spring break trip, we, at SMU Outdoor Adventures did something a little different than we have done in the past. As many outdoor program professionals would agree, planning for spring break trips usually starts early due to permitting and reservation issues and this one was not any different. We were planning to go to northern New Mexico and do some backpacking and camping and therefore, I was getting all logistics down when I found out that the Community Engagement & Leadership Center here at Southern Methodist University was also planning to do an alternative break trip to the same area to volunteer in Taos and Southern Colorado doing service designed to protect America’s wild horses. I immediately saw an opportunity for collaboration between Outdoor Adventures and Community Engagement & Leadership’s alternative break trips. I proposed a joint trip where we would both have a chance to do some outdoorsy things but also have a service piece. Folks over at Community Engagement & Leadership were very excited about the possibly of working together with the Outdoor Adventures program. Student leaders from both sides started working together and planning the trip with advice from the professionals of both areas. Soon enough, the trip was full with a long wait list! A number of pre-trip meetings with the participants were held to prepare them for the trip and on Sunday, March 8 at 4:00a.m., we hit the road for Northern New Mexico. We weren’t sure what conditions we would be working under, or what exactly we would be doing once we reached the Wild Horse Mesa, located just North of Questa, New Mexico on the Colorado side of the border. We met Jim, more fondly known as Homeboy, at a gas station in Questa after a day of volunteering in Taos with a rescued horse nonprofit. Approaching the gas station, the first thing we all saw was the port-a-potty strapped to a trailer of a navy blue Ford truck. The first thought was what a luxury! Upon arrival at our base camp, Judy, the self-appointed mother of the wild horses on the mesa, showed us where we would set up our camp. For the next few days, we traveled with Judy, Roy and Homeboy around the mesa to survey the wild horses. We took notes on their coloring, age, band, and distinctive forehead markings. The goal was to create a database of all of the wild horses to prevent people from stealing them and taking them to slaughter on the other side of the Mexican border. Snow was still melting aro und the mesa, which made for muddy, soggy roads. However, with Homeboy, Judy and Roy’s wild but expert driving, the trucks never got stuck. By the end of the week you couldn’t detect the blue paint under the thick layer of mud. Some of the bands were too scared of people to approach closely. 9