As a student on Wilderness Adventures, I remember the first few days vividly.
I met my trip leaders and the other participants at the airport, where we all worked to learn each others’ names and hometowns. Then we loaded up the trailer with all of our squeaky-clean gear and headed out for our first night. After a long day of travel, my feelings of exhaustion gave way to feelings of excitement as I could not wait to have a campfire, see the Milky Way, and get to know these leaders and my fellow trip mates better.
But while I had mapped out what I anticipated the first 24-hours to be like, I was blown away by the little things that made the program feel special. ‘The evening circle’, a purposeful and thoughtful reflection that ended the day, guided our first evening and became a core element of our trip. Additionally, I had prepared for food that mimicked the cafeteria-style food I was accustomed to during the school year. I soon found out that the food was plentiful and fantastic and I had a hand in shaping the menus and preparing the meals myself.
These little things added to my first moments with Wilderness Adventures, but I realized there would be two key features that would set the foundation for my trip experience: great people and extraordinary scenery. I had never met anyone like my trip leaders before; they were not only skilled in backcountry living, but also were motivated and thoughtful as they pulled our group together. Additionally, I did see the Milky Way that evening, and it was unlike anything I had ever seen before. I quickly became aware that my surroundings, the towering peaks to the west and the stars above, would play a critical role in my adventure.
Twenty-plus years later, and the experience will be the same for our participants who have been arriving all over the country and throughout the world. The first days are great ones on every adventure and it is this time that will set the stage for the adventure ahead.
-Tom Holland, Director