Wilderness Adventures

Being Present in the Moment

By Tom Holland October 9, 2019

At Wilderness Adventures, we are intentional about having our students live in the moment. We understand that our participants come to us looking for a break from the worries they may have during school or at home. Consequently, we try to work with them to have an experience that centers around seizing the day and living in the present.

To make this happen, we start well before they arrive at Wilderness Adventures. We send them a pack list with an emphasis on bringing only the things they will need for the adventure ahead. As we are a trip and travel camp, one where most of the gear will be packed in a camper’s backpack, we recognize we have the opportunity of highlighting those things in our lives that may be distractions from living in the present. Consequently, we advise them not to bring these items (“Hey, they just add weight,” we say — both in reality and metaphorically). No phones or electronics are allowed, and contact with friends and family at home is done through old-fashioned letters.

Upon arrival, we do a gear check with all students and talk about the hours and days ahead. We like to break down their time with us into small increments — where there are minor goals leading to a larger goal of a successful completion of their trip with us. We discuss what they will need to accomplish their goals, and we are proactive about removing items that will just be a burden for them (What’s the purpose of an iPad in the wilderness?). We then emphasize the critical things they will need: great relationships with their team (the other campers on the trip), good communication skills with their leaders, the important gear they have brought (sleeping bag, rain gear, warm clothes, etc.), and their most powerful tool — their own brain.

This removal of some items that have become central to their lives and the awareness of the items that are important to their present success becomes a theme of their time with us. So, too, does the emphasis on small goals that lead to a greater goal. Instead of always thinking of climbing the huge mountain, they think of making it to the next water break down the trail — and smelling the flowers along the way. We have found that these little things lead to a greater sense of living in the present and making the most of each and every moment.

Wilderness Adventures is a proud partner and participant in the ACA’s multi-year impact study on the benefits of summer camp and youth programming. This piece was originally published as part of the 5-Year Impact Study Phase 2 Findings. You can read the full article here.