Aspiring to Greatness

There’s nothing like spending time outside camping to clear your mind. It also helps to put things in their proper perspective.

I just returned from a wonderful camping experience in the High Tor Wildlife Management Area near Naples. My son is enrolled in the the Environmental Classroom Opportunity Program (ECO) at Marcus Whitman Central School District. It’s a wonderful program led by teachers Malcolm MacKenzie and Samantha Wolf, and they provide a hands-on type of learning where the outdoors are used to aid their curriculum.

The entire class camps once in the fall and once in the spring. I was lucky enough to tag along this spring. I’ll use any excuse in the book to go camping, and this was a special trip. The teachers of ECO really help to mold responsible, thought-filled young men and women. A writing journal is kept by each student, and almost every day they write their thoughts and feelings down. They’re being taught writing as well as thinking skills. I truly believe that this program, and others like it, help young adults become all they can be – to realize their potential and someday attain great things.

Greatness can be measure in many different ways. There are great thinkers, doers, inventors, writers, artists. And there are also great athletes. The summer Olympics are coming up this year in London, and there are a number of people who were born or have lived in the Finger Lakes Region that have realized their athletic potential and have already made the U.S. Olympic team. There are others, such as Canandaigua’s Heather Savage and Brittney Kuras, who have a chance of making the swim team by competing in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials this June.

One such person we mention in this issue who has already made the U.S. swimming team is Ryan Lochte. He currently resides in Florida, but was born in the Canandaigua area. Several years ago he was visiting family in the area and needed a place to train. The pool at Canandaigua Academy was offered to him, so he took advantage of that. He could have just kept a low profile and practiced, instead he chose to spend extra time with the Canandaigua Aquatics/YMCA swim team who use the pool for practices and events. Ryan took the time to demonstrate his world-class swimming form, and he also posed for photos with each member of the swim team. Those kids will remember that experience for their entire lives. Ryan had such a positive impact on the Canandaigua community.

I would love to include every athlete from the region who’s an Olympian, and I would be remiss in not mentioning Alex Meyer from Ithaca. He actually made the team last year as an open water swimmer. Accord­ing to SPLASH magazine, he qualified for the team in 2011 “by virtue of his fourth-place finish in the 10K at the FINA World Championships in Shangai.”

We truly are blessed in the Finger Lakes to have such wonderful and talented athletes. Go U.S.A.!


by Mark Stash