The Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition has grown to be one of the top photography events in our region. This year, we saw a nearly 20% increase in submissions and received them from 14 states and several international destinations.
A number of individuals, organizations, and businesses lend a hand to make AMPC possible, and we work hard to highlight those efforts. Something we don’t spend a lot of time highlighting is what we do with the proceeds garnered from the annual competition, so I wanted to take some time to share that with you.
AMPC is coordinated by Appalachian State University’s Outdoor Programs (OP). In our 37 year history, OP has grown to be the adventure authority at App State, introducing students to outdoor opportunities in their backyard and around the world.
In the nineties, OP began offering extended expeditions; trips typically 3 to 4 weeks in length that often carried academic credit. Those initial expeditions included mountaineering in the Teton National Park and multidiscipline trips to Alaska.
This model of blending adventure, challenge, and expeditionary learning proved very successful, and in 2004 Outdoor Programs offered our first short-term study abroad course: an International expedition to New Zealand. It was around this time that we started referring to these experiences as Student Outdoor Learning Expeditions, or SOLE trips for short.
In May, we will return to New Zealand with a group of App State students for our seventh expedition. Another group will be traveling to Wales, our fourth expedition to that Country. Since 2004, we have embarked on two expeditions to Fiji and returned again on one occasion to Alaska. The proceeds from AMPC combined with the proceeds from our annual screenings of the Banff Mountain Film Festival are used to reduce the cost of OP’s Student Outdoor Learning Expeditions; opening doors for more students to experience the benefits of short-term study abroad through active journeys of discovery.
These expeditions immerse students in the rugged environments and unique cultures of the places we visit. In 2008, a videographer from Appalachian joined our expedition to New Zealand to document the experience and to share the impact these experiences have on the students who participate. The images and words of the students captured in this brief documentary communicate far more than I can, so enjoy!