|Houston Inner City Outings: Women in the Wild
Ave Burke Rojas
From January 21st to the 23rd , the young women of Chinquapin School with great
enthusiasm and optimism spent a weekend with Sierra Club Houston Inner City Outings
leaders, Angie Langolf, Lorraine Gibson, and Ave Rojas at the Brazos Bend State Park. The
all female group set up camp under an unpredictable sky and put their faith in Nature's
plan. Threats of rain and freezing temperatures did not quiet their laughter or curb their
The weekend was filled with education about wildlife at the Brazos Bend State Park
Nature Center, through guided hikes around the Creekfield Lake and the 40 Acre Lake, at
the observation tower surrounded by marshes and roosting birds, and at the George
Observatory under stars and amidst amateur astronomers.
They were all fascinated by four generations of a family of alligators found sunbathing
in an open space along the 40 Acre Lake. A chubby raccoon waddling around the campsite,
apparently accustomed to campers, entertained them as he searched for fallen crumbs. And
as they had hoped for, the night winds blew away the clouds as celestial bodies speckled
The students, between the ages of 15 and 18, embodied the confidences and the
curiosities of youth. On several occasions, students escaped to a private bench or into
their tents or gathered around the warmth of the campfire to reflect and journal on the
feelings evoked by the subtleties and experiences with the natural world. They expressed
an appreciation for the peacefulness of the forests and the lakes. They expressed an
appreciation for the Sierra Club and ICO.
The highlight of the weekend was just after midnight on Sunday, January 23, 2004. From
their tents, the Chinquapin girls sang a melodious Happy Birthday to their friend Krystal
Liggins, who had turned 18 years old in a tent, wrapped up in a sleeping bag at Brazos
Bend State Park. The girls all knew each other at school, but a weekend camping together
would make them friends.
The Sierra Club ICO leaders of the trip proved to be wonderful role models for the
young women of Chinquapin. Angie Langolf, Lorraine Gibson, and Ave Burke provided warm
meals from Dutch ovens on chilly nights, taught camping safety measures, and encouraged
their free spirits to touch, smell, look, and listen to all that lived in the Brazos Bend
State Park. The weekend turned out to be absolutely beautiful. As they all said their
good-byes Sunday morning, the sun and goodbye hugs warmed them up after a cold night.
It never rained after all.