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LIT Backpacking Trip 2017

When Waypoint staff met this Leaders-In-Training crew for the first time in May at the Ropes Course, we looked at each other and said almost in unison, “….I can’t wait for the backpacking trip.” Five months later, this group of 11 young adults journeyed up to the White Mountains and took part in the type of experience that defines Waypoint Adventure. Immersion in the challenging and restorative power of the wilderness provides for some serious learning opportunities. We believe people discover big, important things about themselves – especially attributes of their character – during adventures, but it’s longer, challenging trips like these that let those skills really develop. Zach, Robert, Shayda, Sara F, Sara Y, Will, Adam, Ryan, Kristina, Tessa, and Chris all stepped out of their comfort zone and learned important life lesson.

It was cold! 33 degrees cold! But facing the challenges of a tough trail and a cold night strengthened our camaraderie and built confidence in each individual. If you can survive this, what other challenges can you face!? This weekend was a BIG deal for a lot of people and it was a joy to not only see these individuals “survive” but really flourish and have an awesome time coming together as friends.

On Sunday morning, each LIT participated in a 45 minute solo and reflected on this quote by Alan Watts:

“To spend a lengthy period alone in the forests or mountains, a period of coming to terms with the solitude and nonhumanity of nature is to discover who, or what, one really is – a discovery hardly possible while the community is telling you what you are, or ought to be.”

Waypoint’s version of this quote is:

“When you spend a long period of time alone in the wilderness, you are also spending time gaining a better understanding of what aloneness actually feels like – without other humans around. When you spend time alone away from other people, and the people on the other side of social media, you are also removed from their opinions or projections of reality. Only then can you discover who you really are!”

When our group came back together after solo, one LIT said “spending time alone helps you form your own opinion. It’s hard to do that sometimes when you’re constantly reading other people’s comments on Facebook.” When asked why it’s important to form your own opinion, he said “because then you can be unique and be who you are.”

These LITs are building their leadership skills, yes. They’re getting a handle on specific attributes good leaders have, sure. But the most crucial lesson they’re learning is how to be themselves – even when it’s hard – even when you have to make decisions. The very best leaders know who they are.

Each LIT participated in a one-on-one check in with a Waypoint staff on the hike down where we asked them to reflect on what attribute they knew they were good at and to decide on a personal goal for the remainder of the series. It was new to many to set a goal directly related to an attribute of their character, but the results were awesome! Can’t wait to see how these LITs will grow further!

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The group gathers at Waypoint at 6am to for gear checks and final prep before loading the van. Here, we’re reiterating our goal of learning to be leaders and each LIT picked an attribute of a leader they wanted to set as their personal goal
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Even before getting in the van, everyone committed to giving up their cell phone for the weekend and adopting a “Be Here Now” spirit – taking a break from technology, social media, and contact with friends/family.
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A bag of cell phones – proof you can really spend a weekend without it!
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The blurry, rainy view out our front windshield. The rain in Boston was a bit of a surprise and made us nervous, but once we got into NH, it stopped.
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Robert and Zach standing with a life-size stuffed bear found at the Lincoln NH rest stop.
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All the LITs at the trailhead suited up and ready to start hiking!
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Collette, Skylar, Will, Dan, Sara Y, and Chris crossing a narrow high bridge right at the start of our hike
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Zach and Robert posing in the trees – Zach with his never-far-from-reach Mad Libs notepad.
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Most of our group taking a break on the trail. Several thumbs are up and smiles are broad.
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Sara Y checking out a babbling stream below her from her spot on the bridge
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Sara F and Adam R hiking together. Sara was a great sighted guide for Adam.
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A view of our group on the narrow trail. Backpacks were huge – carrying ALL of our stuff.
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Will and Robert look back at the stream they just crossed.
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Chris being an excellent sighted guide for Adam R – leading him around a particularly muddy, wet section of the trail. Adam is using Chris’s backpack to guide him.
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Dan, Sara Y, and Will hiking along… almost to camp!
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Will, Tessa, and Robert smile at the camera. They’re excited to get to camp and put their packs down.
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Robert’s knee got sore just before getting into camp. Zach and Kristina help get him the rest of the way.
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With Zach and Kristina and Robert without packs, Sara F volunteers to take another! She’s wearing one on her back and one on her front.
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We finally get to Sawyer Pond tent platforms and are getting warm layers on and setting up camp. The girls’ platform is here and the guys’ platform is in the background to the right. They’re setting up their tarp and will come over to the girls’ side after to help while the girls learn how to purify water, hang the bear bag, and start dinner.
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Shayda and Will purifying water with a water pump and water from the pond.
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Collette and Kristina cooking up some delicious rice and chicken pots!
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All the LITs sit around an unlit campfire after dinner and Kristina is telling her life story. Robert is aiming his flashlight at her paper so she can see. Kristina and a few others shared their Life Story that night finishing up our goal of giving everyone a chance to share their Life Story.
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It’s completely dark now and we’ve finished dinner, s’mores, and we’ve brushed our teeth. It’s time to put everything with a scent (food and toiletries) up in the bear-bag so no critters can get it! It takes a group of us but we finally haul it up out of reach.
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Good morning! We think it was about 36 degrees this morning! A picture of most of the girls still sleeping at 7am under their tarp and snuggled in their sleeping bags. From Right to left (was) Julia, Sara Y, Skylar, Shayda, Kristina, Tessa, and (was) Sara F.
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The sunrise coming over the distant mountains and reflecting off Sawyer Pond in the foreground.
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After a 40 minute Solo time where each LIT sat alone and reflected on the importance of time spent alone, we start packing up camp. In this picture, Ryan and Shayda work together to stuff a sleeping bag back in it’s sack.
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Robert pumping purified water into everyone’s Nalgenes for the hike down.
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Zach, Chris, and Ryan have packs on, walking sticks in hand, and are ready to hike out.
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Tessa and Kristina are bundled up and ready for the hike down.
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Collette and Ryan working together to get Ryan’s pack fitting correctly.
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One big group shot of 11 LITs, one PCA, and three Waypoint staff/volunteers before our Sunday morning hike back to the van.
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And obviously a silly one…


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Will, Sara Y, and Dan on their way out of the Sawyer Pond area amidst beautiful greenery, dark blue brook, and lighted sky with a mountain in the distance.
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Adam R and Julia so close to the end – doing the final stretch without bags. Adam R is stepping over a big rock.
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Will, Sara Y, Dan, Skylar, and Ryan cross the narrow bridge again to get back to the parking lot. Blue skies are behind them and stream below them. Leaves are beginning to change color.
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The whole group eating lunch before loading in the van – pitas with hummus, cheddar cheese, and pepperoni.
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One of our two vans all loaded up and ready to get home!