I am empowered to be a strong woman, and proud of all that I have accomplished. I have mastered backcountry survival skills, I have summited high mountain peaks, and above all I am proud that I have spread this sense of empowerment to other women in the outdoors. My greatest moments as a trip leader have been witnessing the growth in confidence, self-assurance, and strength in the young women that have been on my Wilderness Adventures trips.
On our trips we inspire our students, regardless of gender, to push the boundaries of their comfort zones, to be compassionate towards themselves and others, and to achieve the goals they have challenged themselves to accomplish. It is in these lessons that we hope to foster the leaders of tomorrow.
As a leader at Wilderness Adventures, we have the opportunity to witness amazing growth in our students over a two, three, or four-week trips. When I think back to all of the students I had the pleasure of leading, it is hard to choose just one moment to illustrate the value and impact of our trips. This story is about a young woman who gained confidence and clarity, while being challenged and supported by her peers and leaders. We had just finished the sixth day of our seven-day backpacking trip, and this student had been very shy and very concerned about what others thought of her on the trip. At the end of this day, she pulled me aside, crying, and naturally, I was worried something was wrong. However, it was quite the opposite. She wanted to tell me she had just looked at herself in the mirror, and for the first time in her life she didn’t see her acne, she didn’t criticize her features, and she didn’t wish she was wearing makeup. She instead saw a beautiful, strong girl. A beautiful, strong girl who had just finished 10 miles of hiking, who had been leading the group to the finish line, and who had overnight rediscovered her lost confidence. This young woman was beaming with joy, and had a light behind her eyes that I hadn’t seen before. I was so proud, and I knew that this moment would be one she could look upon for years to come, to remind herself that she is capable of anything.
After a Wilderness Adventures trip, you arrive home with the confidence that you can do anything you set your mind to. No matter who you are or where you come from you can dive to 80 ft below sea level, whitewater kayak, summit the tallest peak in Africa, or spend fifteen nights straight in the backcountry. This is the beauty of what we do. We teach our students that you have the power to do anything, and to be anything you want.