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!