Dreamin’ big time with 5Point scholarships
CARBONDALE – Three high school students in the lower Roaring Fork Valley get to pursue some far-reaching dreams thanks to a new scholarship program at the 5Point Film festival.
Each one received $2,500 to pursue dreams related to outdoors and adventure.
Weaver Froelicher, 16, a sophomore at Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale, will travel to Uganda to help with an organization’s malaria education efforts and teach kayaking to villagers in a specific part of the country.
Andrew Bair, 17, a junior at Bridges High School in Glenwood Springs, will take all of his school mates on a hiking hut trip this fall.
JJ Worley, a senior at Colorado Rocky Mountain School, will use her scholarship to travel to Costa Rica and learn indigenous farming and cooking techniques while living with a family. She will also coach soccer.
The 5Point Dream Project has been a goal of Julie Kennedy’s since she started the Carbondale film festival in 2008. She wanted to find a way to support and encourage local youth to explore the outdoors and live a life of passion.
She was finally able to offer the scholarships this year with the financial support of Obermeyer Asset Management Co., Aspen Skiing Co. and Timbers Resorts.
Froelicher recently visited Uganda while spending a semester at the World Class Kayaking Academy. He was impressed by the white water there.
“I absolutely loved the trip,” Froelicher said. “The kayaking there is pretty awesome. There’s a lot of volume going down the Nile.”
He was also inspired by the trip when he learned of the efforts of Softpower Health, a nonprofit started by a kayaker and doctor who wanted to educate Ugandans on how to avoid malaria. The people of the East African country are constantly devastated by the disease, yet they are poorly educated on how to avoid it. Softpower Health educates and provides nets for villagers to sleep under.
Froelicher said kayaking lessons can also be useful for natives of the country that is a popular white-water destination. In his last trip there, he helped teach kayaking to a young man. That helped the man get a job with a rafting company.
Froelicher hopes to use his scholarship money to return to the country early this summer, but the timing is up on the air because of circumstances beyond his control. “I’m not really sure because Uganda is going through some turmoil right now,” he said.
Whenever the trip occurs, he is eager to give back to people in the area in which he was living.
Bair is equally excited to share his love of the outdoors with his schoolmates at Bridges High School. Bair, a seventh-generation Basalt native, said he has been immersed in the outdoors for as long as he can remember. He spends as much time in the backcountry as possible as a Boy Scout and with family and friends.
He realizes not everyone gets those same opportunities. When he heard about the 5Point Dream Project, he applied to start an outdoor program at Bridges “to get [students] outdoors and see what the outdoors means to them.”
The school already has an annual ski trip to huts in the 10th Mountain Hut System. Bair will use his scholarship to add an October hike to huts. There are 76 students at the school this year and similar numbers are expected next school year. Most students are excited about an addition backcountry trip, he said, but some are asking “why do we have to do this?” That just comes with the territory, he said. He hopes the fall trip into the backcountry will be as inspirational for them as it has been for him.
Worley’s passion is “connecting with different cultures,” according to a profile in the 5Point guide. “Her humility and gratitude for life is why she was chosen as a Dream Project winner,” the guide said.
In her application for the scholarship, Worley said she dreams of being bilingual. Living with a host family in La Paz will be difficult, but important to her dream.
In return for Costa Ricans opening their homes and ways of life to her, she will coach elementary school soccer, tutor in English and help out on farms by milking cows and picking sugar cane. She will also take school supplies and recreational equipment to Costa Rica with her.
In a brief statement made by the scholarship winners at Thursday night’s session of the film festival, Worley credited her dad with teaching her about the wonders of wilderness and sparking her interest in adventure.
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