Glenna and Earl Alderson
Celebrating 31 Years of Adventure
I spent my first 4 days at Hampshire scared. It was Glenna, and 2nd year student Lane, who kept me calm through the class I-II rapids of the Deerfield during the freshman orientation trip in fall 1999.
While Hampshire academically sharpened my mind, it was Glenna and Earl who helped me find grounding and application of the classwork. The ability to plan and look ahead was shown to me by Earl while rafting the class IV rapids of the upper Deerfield. Earl would intentionally hit rocks or holes to show what happens if one is distracted and not planning ahead. He would show how smooth and fun life is when one pauses to scout the line. And how to make adjustments to the line when Rule #3 happened (i.e. sometimes stuff happens).
While in Mexico one Jan Term, Glenna taught me to stay in the present – we had heard news another Jan Term trip (skiing and ice climbing in Canada) had an injured student. My girlfriend of the time was on the Canada trip….was it her? We didn’t know and Glenna helped me lessen my worry by coaching breathing tips, how to realize when the mind wondered to states of worry, and how to focus it back on the now.
Because of them, and the OPRA staff, I now have a career teaching college students some of the same lessons Glenna, Earl, OPRA, and Hampshire taught me. Outdoor adventures are the perfect places for students to learn and apply life lessons.
Thank you Glenna. Thank you Earl for the lessons.
What fabulous thing can I say about Glenna and Earl Alderson that hasn’t already been said? They have been some of the most influential and contributive members of OPRA I’ve ever met. Warm and welcoming, even as a student who was mostly close to one of their colleagues, they were influential to me then. In my efforts to become hired as part of the official OPRA staff team, Glenna and Earl were some of my loudest and most vocal advocates. I’m not sure if they know to this day how meaningful that was to me. I feel honored to have worked alongside them and will miss them greatly. I wish them the best in everything they do for their future.
Thank you for your heartfelt friendship, Glenna & Earl.
Glenna and Earl helped me, and so many others, build life skills that no one can just teach. I will always remember the first time our beginning kayak class launched on a real river. I was quiet, shy, scrawny, not strong, aloof, perpetually cold, and often unprepared. I couldn’t find a good place to fit my kayak on the landing among the boats at the water, so I left it high up on the beach. Glenna looked me in the eye and said, “Kayaking is going to make you be assertive. Get in there.” She was absolutely right. Part of why I still love the sport is that it forces me to practice skills that just don’t come naturally. Paddling is the easy part; developing confidence that I can hold my own in the current needed coaching, mentorship, kindness, honesty, and, yes, assertion. Thanks, Glenna and Earl, for helping me be a better grown up!
The impact of Glenna and Earl and their indefatigable spirit can be felt globally. Although not a Hampshire College student, I have known them since the 1980’s when we worked the Chattooga, Nohlichucky, and Ocoee Rivers together. We have been connected ever since and have mutual friends, not just in Europe, Africa, New Zealand, Central and South America and, of course the US as well. To my wonderment, when I moved into my new house in Florida my next door neighbors were students of theirs at your wonderful school and spoke of the Alderson’s kindness, honesty and integrity. Their teaching and example will follow Glenna and Earl no matter where their new journeys may take them
I worked with Earl and Glenna on the Chattooga. Glenna was a new section 4 guide and was lined up for a perfect run through corkscrew rapid but thought she was off line.. She yelled “we’re not going to make it!” and her passengers were terrified.. She proceeded to have a perfect run but after then I would yell “we’re not going to make it!” to my passengers to add extra excitement to running that rapid. They were a great couple to work with and I hope Glenna forgives me for posting this story. 🙂
Earl and Glenna were a staple of my time at Hampshire College. I went to Greece with them for J-term and spent a spring break trip with them kayaking in the Southeast, not to mention countless day trips rock climbing or kayaking in the local areas (or hours spent in the pool learning how to roll my kayak!). My time at Hampshire would not have been as wonderful as it was without their presence and mentorship and I admire them and feel extraordinarily privileged to have their friendship. Hampshire will not be the same without them.
I had the pleasure of taking all of the OPRA rock climbing courses and joining Glenna and Earl for three January term climbing trips to warm destinations. Spending time with these two taught me that it’s important to surround myself with great people. By doing so, we learn faster and have access to more information, opportunities, and resources. With Glenna and Earl’s mentorship, I went from never having climbed a pitch in my life to completing a variety of serious, big mountain alpine routes.
When we were cleaning up our house rental at the end of a sport climbing trip in Spain, I was making haste of sweeping up a bedroom. I told my roomate, “it doesn’t need to be perfect.” Earl overheard that and immediately bellowed from the other room, “Max! Any job worth doing is a job worth doing well!” And that line has stuck with me to this day.
I could write a book about both Earl and Glenna. Even though it has been years, some of the best times of my life was with these two. From hiking parts of the Appalachian Trail, kayaking several rivers to rock climbing in Tennessee and North Carolina, they were some great adventures! I am so proud of both of them. Congratulations to Glenna and Earl!
Glenna and Earl helped me get more comfortable climbing, kayaking, and believing that I can do those things for a long, long time. Thanks for the inspiration.
Earl and Glenna took a scared city kid and turned her into a lover of the outdoors. From my first experience canoeing during orientation (literally my first time camping ever) to countless kayak trips where they nurtured me without coddling I am forever greatful for the life lessons. I’m pretty sure I retained more of the information doled out by “earlisms” than the information in most of my other classes- and now almost 20 years after even my kids can tell you “don’t do stupid… stuff”
Like any exceptionally skilled professional, Glenna and Earl make their work look easy. So easy that one might well fail to recognize all the hard work, incredible skill, talent and tireless dedication that extend well beyond the average work day.
They teach hard skills with a casual ease that makes the impossible feel possible. They possess not only mind boggling athletic abilities but also a finesse for teaching that is individually tuned and highly effective.
Glenna and Earl always have your back. They’ve recognized and reacted to that hazard before you even realized you were in trouble. They manage tricky group dynamics with a quip and a smile. They coach you through hard situations, both physical and mental, with a supportive hand and an appropriately timed kick in the butt. They twine life lessons into everyday activities and teach with a wisdom that comes from extraordinary life experience.
And they do all this with groundedness and a deep generosity that permeates their life.
Thank you, Glenna and Earl, for all that you have given! You leave an awesome legacy at Hampshire and in the Valley and we all wish you well on your next adventures. I’ve learned an incredible amount from you two and I’m thankful to call both of you mentors and true friends. I have no doubt that you two will continue to touch lives and inspire goodness wherever you go. As for my part, I’ll do my best to keep paying it forward!
Earl and Glenna are my lighthouse and my home away from home during my four years at Hampshire College. They are a huge part of my college experience and introduced rock climbing and kayaking to my life.
In autumn 2015, my first semester, I fell in love with kayaking, rock climbing, and with the outdoor community at Hampshire College. My first year at Hampshire was a culture shock, and kayaking with Glenna and Earl was a blessing. Glenna taught me how to roll, catch eddies, and read rivers. I had the experience of a lifetime kayaking the West River release in Vermont, twice, as well as our local rivers in Massachusetts (Millers Falls, Deerfield, and Farmington). Looking ahead is one of the most important life skills Earl and Glenna have taught me, and how most situations are just like kayaking and rock climbing.
I went on weekend climbing trips with Earl and just like that we were in Malaga, Spain, for world renown rock climbing (El Churro, January 2017) I remember watching Earl climb a route, poema de roca, and he made it look easy; the rock in that section is different compared to the frontales because it’s polished and bouldery. We spent two weeks there and improved my rock climbing skills 110%. This trip inspired me for future trips and adventures, like going to the Red River gorge in Kentucky. I sat in the front of the van and talked with Earl about life and saving for the entire car ride there and back. We had the best time at miguel’s pizza, and the climbing was amazing. Glenna was sure to book us a cabin with a hot tub and this was great after climbing. Also, I worked for Glenna as a lifeguard in 2016/2017, and I learned how to save lives.
I am so happy to have them in my life. On my first Rumney rock climbing trip, F17, my mom and sister got in a bad car accident, and Glenna was there for me and kept me strong. We also got rained out, but the next trip to the white mountains was incredible (F18) We had great weather, climbing, and company. If it wasn’t for them, I would have never left my comfort zone and studied abroad in New Zealand. Thank you Glenna for preparing me for some gnarly whitewater in New Zealand spring 2018. I am, as many of us are, so happy /hto have them in my life and excited to see what their next chapter in life brings.
Time spent with Earl and Glenna, is time well spent. I am so appreciative to have learned from them like a sponge and for the time we have spent together. They have inspired me to excel at a young age, and they opened my eyes to exploration and adventure. Earl and Glenna helped us realize how beautiful nature and life is and how not to take life for granted. Thank you Earl and Glenna, and I hope to visit you in Bend Oregon! #yolofreesolo #outdoornation #keepexploring #loveyou #staykeen
December 13, 2018
Divisional duties keep me from thanking you for all you have done for Hampshire swimming for the last three decades. I will always be grateful for your numerous tips and encouragement. Congrats on your retirement!
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