Message From the Director
As a child growing up in Maryland I can remember my friends along with my brother and I, gathering at my house on the weekend and heading off into the nearby woods where we would be gone all day.
What we did was only limited by our imagination. We might follow animal tracks, pretend to be explorers discovering new territories, hike trails, or even blaze new ones. We built forts and makeshift clubhouses, followed streams, skipped rocks, and caught crawfish and salamander with only a stick, string, and bacon. The ideas were endless and when we would return home our hands were dirty, our feet were wet, and looking back I now realize that these were some of the most memorable moments in my life.
When was the last time you saw a forest in real life, crossed a moving river, caught a fish, or even saw a rabbit? Have you ever cooked a meal in the outdoors, or slept in a tent? For most adults the answer is, when I was a child. For most children the answer is never, but I have seen it on TV.
Today the notion of going on a hike, fishing, camping, or backpacking is foreign to a growing number of youth in cities and suburbs around the nation. According to Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder
“Nature is increasingly an abstraction you watch on [the] nature channel…, [and] the cumulative effect of withdrawing nature from children’s experiences” is a very serious issue. Recent studies have shown that individual who get outdoors are healthier, do better in school, have better social skills and self image, and consequently lead more fulfilled lives.”
The complexity of everyday-life is peeled back to the basics of food, water, shelter, and companionship. When this happens persona’s are stripped down and individuals suddenly find themselves on equal footing with all members of the group. It is due to this over simplification that groups begins to communicate and share ideas on a deeper level.
Backcountry travel presents real challenges, which must be met as a group through the united strengths of all participants. One cannot do it alone, nor can others do without it without one. This is where the fast pace of society is replaced with hands-on experiential learning, allowing true leadership and teambuilding to be developed.
One of the best benefits of our program is that people begin to discover a sense of inner selves for the first time on our trips. This self reflection leads to a strengthening of character and personal growth that fosters the development of heart and spirit within each participant.
In a world filled with electronic media, video games, and rigid structured play, the wilderness is one of the only places that can provide the experiences that facilitate the life skills necessary to develop the whole person, while also providing the adventure and challenges that everyone seeks.
Christopher Gibson, Executive Director