‘I did my own laundry.’
These words struck me yesterday morning as I spoke to one of our departing students about the accomplishments he was most proud of during his time with WA.
Sure, he listed the backcountry skills he learned, the whitewater he conquered, the new friends he made and the peak he climbed during his time with WA. But, at the end of his (laundry) list of accomplishments, he paused and then gave me a big ‘AND…
I did my own laundry.’
This boy was 11, and the pride in his voice at listing this as an accomplishment was something that struck me.
It’s true, on every trip we do, our kids do their own laundry. I remember that this is where I learned how to do laundry as a kid. I remember reading up on the trout of Yellowstone Lake while I sat against the washer that cleaned my clothes. And, while I probably did not list ‘doing laundry’ as one of my biggest accomplishments, in retrospect it was an important life skill that I learned in my Wilderness Adventures experience.
We are proud of the character development that is key to our program. We are proud of the work we do with our students to expand their creativity, critical thinking, collaborative and communication skills– skills that will be important to their future success. But, we are also very proud of the basic life skills that we teach. Skills such as: how to cook a meal, how to shop in a grocery store, and how to do laundry.
Part of the adventure is that our students will play an active role in each element of their individual and group success. They will return from their adventure having carried their own gear, pitched their own tents, shopped for their own food, made their own meals, cleaned up their own campsites (and clothes!) and even led the group on the journey. When they get to the finish line, after achieving all of these important life skills, our students feel a great sense of fulfillment.
And we, as their guides, role models, coaches and cheerleaders along the way, are proud of these accomplishments too. The big, like climbing the major peak, and the small, like doing your own laundry.
Here’s to doing laundry and clean clothes at WA!