What Did I Just Sign Myself Up For?

We empower youth to explore, achieve, and lead outdoors."

RSCN0421A perspective from SOLE Field Instructor Intern, Lauren McKinney

“What did I just sign myself up for?”, It’s a question I find myself asking quite often in my life. This time, fresh out of college, I had signed up to intern on a Journey Experience: 16 days in the backcountry of Montana. The first morning was a flurry of activity and that question never far from my thoughts. As we drove further away from town and deeper into the wilderness, the chatter in my mind began to quiet. There is something incredibly healing about places that overwhelm the senses, where you can breathe in the wildness and invigoration of life all around you.  As the days wandered by, I found myself being constantly challenged, not just from physical demands, but also as a whole person. It is unthinkable to be a part of someone else’s journey of growth and self-discovery without having some of that rub off on you as well.  It seems people embark on a Journey Experience with the understanding that they are not content with where their life is at the moment and want to make a change, but have a tenuous grasp of why or how. Each day there is some progress made, you gain a deeper understanding of yourself, what drives you, what holds you back and each day you see some regression on previous insights. The highs get a little higher and the lows drive you deeper – which is illuminating because you need to understand and explore the depths to appreciate the full range of color in your life. A Journey Experience provides the space to have those moments of clarity. But like the feeling of empowerment felt at the summit, you have to hold on to those memories because eventually you have to hike back down, back into reality, where things have a way of becoming convoluted and complicated. However, now you have been armed with the tools and self-knowledge found along your Journey to make those changes in your life, if you choose.

So to answer my own question, I signed up for a backpacking trip, what I found along the way was so much more.




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