Central New York, Community, Environment, Syracuse, Things to do

One Program Uses the Great Outdoors to Teach Leadership and Teamwork

Scott Catucci helped create the Leadership Outdoor Orientation Program to help freshmen gain skills and make friends. (c) 2018 Dallas Jackson

Click the Play button to hear more about Scott Catucci and the Leadership Outdoor Orientation Program.

Audio Transcript: Outdoor Education and Leadership – Dallas Jackson

By Dallas Jackson, SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – Summers are usually full of many different activities. For incoming college freshmen, things can be a little different. The summer after graduating high school is filled with adjustments. If you decide to enroll in college and leave home, things can get a little hectic.

Syracuse University’s Outdoor Education staff found a way to get students to experience the outdoors and adjust to life away from home.

A group of LOOP students. (c) Scott Catucci

Associate Director Scott Catucci started the Leadership Outdoors Orientation Program (LOOP) back in 2005. There was no initial program when Catucci first became a part of Outdoor Education. He became the first full-time director of the program and has been there to see it grow since. The idea for LOOP came when he collaborated with the orientation team at Syracuse University.

He learned about and attended an outdoor program symposium and met with people from the Northeast region.

“So I picked their brains and learned from them and then came back with that information and it applied to what we wanted to do,” Catucci said. “And it’s now known as the Leadership Outdoor Orientation Program.”

The students go through ropes courses, hiking, rafting and more. Spots began filling up, causing Catucci and Outdoor Education to add a second trip. Approximately 80 students attend the LOOP trips each summer; 50 for the Adirondack trip and 30 for the Odyssey trip. Students can pick one or the other, since both trips are the same days. There are additional trips throughout the school year from September to May as well.

The high-ropes course. (c) 2018 Scott Catucci

Catucci says the goals of the LOOP program are to teach students about teamwork and problem-solving through different outdoor activities. After going through their first year, students can return as leaders of the program.

“So we’ll have sophomore, junior and senior trip leaders that are greeting those students, and helping them answer questions like, ‘What was it like your first year?’ and whatever,” he said. “Helping them make a smooth transition to the university.”

According to Catucci, lots of the students who attended LOOP activities together have remained friends afterwards.

“They’re creating relationships and friendships that last even beyond the four years of college,” Catucci says. “I’ve gotten photos of students meeting years after their time at LOOP.”

To find more outdoor activities throughout New York State, click here.