Every year, some of our students participate in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award program, an award out of the UK which my friend who heads the CAS program also supervises. The DoE program exists at three levels, Bronze, Silver and Gold, and students can achieve these awards by completing a personal program of activities involving helping people in the community, getting fit, developing skills and going on an expedition.
This weekend, two of my colleagues and I took 10 female students on an "expedition" which involved camping and hiking for three days in a hilly pineforest outside of Eskisehir. These girls are Silver participants (the level of the award determines the amount of nights spent camping), and for many, this was their first time camping. Though it wasn't a true backpacking experience- the place we camped was more of a picnic area with shelters near by- our hiking consisted of bushwhacking; the girls were responsible for picking landmarks and leading us. Although the forecast was for rain the entire weekend, we were lucky to have solid chunks of time when it did not rain; and even though concerned parents called during the second night when it was hailing in Ankara, it was only dumping rain and not ice on our dinner preparation. The girls were troopers, though, and not once did we hear any complaints.
The removal of clay from our hiking boots! This is reason enough not to hike/backpack during rainy season in Turkey. You quickly acquire high heel boots when hiking after a rain. Every time we had to cross a muddy path, there was a 5 minute pause for clay removal.
One evening, we took a sidetrip to a nearby village in order to establish connections with the locals, and for the girls to be reminded of the world outside rich Bilkent.
At a teahouse:
I've been fortunate these past few weekends to get out of Ankara and into the forest to witness the changing colors...
Chestnut trees :)