Adventure Club aims to provide fun and fitness
Cyndee Kawalek, sponsor of Maine South High School's Adventure Club, takes suggestions from students for activities to participate in this year during the group's first meeting Sept. 6. | Joe Cyganowski~for Sun-Times Media
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Updated: September 20, 2012 1:44PM
PARK RIDGE — Katniss Everdeen is inspiring a lot of people to take up archery these days.
Even Maine South High School’s aptly named Adventure Club.
Like the heroine of the “Hunger Games” trilogy, several students signing up to participate in Adventure Club activities this year at the Park Ridge high school are eager to pick up a bow and arrow and hit their mark.
“Now that Katniss is out there in the ‘Hunger Games’ with this, everyone is into archery,” noted Adventure Club Sponsor Cyndee Kawalek as students tossed out archery practice as a club event suggestion during a Sept. 6 welcome meeting in the Maine South Library.
Other extracurricular ideas included the ever-popular rock-wall climbing and kayaking, as well as biking, skiing and ice skating.
Paintball combat was an idea brought forth by one student, but Kawalek said it’s impossible.
“The school won’t allow it,” she said. “Believe me, I’ve tried.”
Adventure Club was started by Kawalek, a teacher of physical education at the school, about 10 years ago.
“It’s a club to expose students to outdoor leisure and recreational activities, to help them expand their idea of what fitness is,” she said.
The club is also meant to build self-esteem while providing students with a connection to their school and peers who have similar interests, Kawalek noted.
Last year about 40 students became regular adventurers, taking part in nearly every activity, including scaling the school’s climbing wall, biking the Chicago Botanic Garden, scaling the high ropes course at the Lattof YMCA in Des Plaines, and embarking on the group’s annual camping trip in Wisconsin where their previous knowledge of using maps and a compass in the wilderness came in handy.
Kawalek, who teaches Maine South’s Adventure Education P.E. program, tries to get Adventure Club active in at least one escapade each month.
Junior Karl Sissman, sporting his Adventure Club T-shirt from the previous school year, is one member looking forward to another nine months of adrenaline-producing fun.
“Everything we do here is fun, from rock climbing to kayaking,” Sissman said.
Freshmen Nick Cecala, Jacqueline Betthauser and Kaylee Coyle came to see what Adventure Club has to offer.
“I’m just not adventurous at all — but I want to be,” said Betthauser who expressed interest in improving her wall rock climbing skills.
“I want to try kayaking and the mapping,” added Coyle. “I want to try to not get lost in the woods.”
Cecala, looking forward to kayaking, signed up for Adventure Club based on his older brother’s enthusiasm for it.
“He loved it and he loved Ms. Kawalek as well,” Cecala shared. “He’d come home really excited, telling me about it. I was really excited to actually come and try it, too.”
Kawalek says she tries to come up with a new activity each year to keep the students engaged.
“Anything that has a bit of safe risk in it is what they like,” she said.