TEN MILES! 11 years old! In point of fact one of the main purposes of WYLD's mission is to foster the abilities of the kids we adventure with. We do this by NOT underestimating them. Often times our young adventurers are underestimated in school, by society, and by themselves. A ten mile path along a mountain stream with a destination to a bridge that goes nowhere, is the world's best provider of "yes you can!" We provide the cheerleading and the ride, but the kids do the work. If you hike five miles into a place without roads, you must hike five miles back out again. If you are tired when you start back out after lunch and think you can't make it, you soon realize that after a mile your energy returns and it won't be 5 miles of torture. This lesson of 'will', provided under the watchful eye of several Desert Big Horn sheep, delves deeper than chapter three, paragraph four of one's history text book. You learn something about yourself. You gain a tool for your tool box. The swimming hole of a mountain stream on a hot Saturday afternoon is the perfect playground to learn social skills and test out one's humor while frolicking with one's peers. No console or screen required. The granite rock striations that wallpaper one's path are the perfect introduction to the mysteries of earth's forces and phenomenon, and one's place in a big, big world. Learning that big horn sheep live only an hour from where you live adds a bit of wonder to daily life, and piques one's interest for "what else?" When you sit down under a tree in the shade with no one else's agenda to follow you learn a bit of independence and you get to be quiet. Or not. Last Saturday the 'Bridge or Bust' crew was led by one of WYLD's most dedicated guides, a young man who holds a huge passion for the wilderness and all it's potential to foster one's ability, and a man who does NOT underestimate the abilities of his charges. WYLD is guided by the mentors that guide the youth. We all chip in, but an important part of the equation to 'ability fostering' is having the youth see themselves in their guides and mentors. One of our goals in the coming year is to increase the number of capable young guides on staff so that we can increase programming and get more youth in touch with their potential, their abilities and the natural wonders of flora, fauna, and themselves. The educational gap, and I would argue the disparity gap, we see in schools in particular, can be filled most efficiently with experiences. Experiences are our true teachers, and from that tool box we can access what we need to get where we want to be. We don't lack experiences because we are incapable of having them. The ability is there. Sometimes we just need a ride. To somewhere.
Photo by Cassie Rivkin. Guiding by Jeremy Rogers.