Jim's PTO blog is about to approach the 2nd year anniversary of blogging (congrats!), as I'm approaching my 1st year anniversary of blogging. Blogging, for those who just read them, and don't blog themselves, is WORK! I love it though, and the "payback" is having interactions with people like Jim. Like-minded, nature-loving nerds! I mean that with all good feelings of course, because I AM one!
PTO is giving away some cool gifts to those who participate in the Sharing the Passion anniversary blog. It would be neat to win a prize for writing, but I really like to write, and the topic is one that is quite meaningful to me.
I am going to write, briefly, about ONE of many who Shared the Passion with me. I have parents who've spent their entire lives learning about the outdoors, allowed my sister and I every pet imaginable, and who's field guides I am now secretly stealing :). I have many professors and staff members at my college who all have Shared the Passion with me time and time again...friends, peers, children...but the one person I'd really like to focus on for this blog entry, is someone I first met at my summer job at a summer camp in the Adirondack Mountains of NY in 2008.
I arrived at the camp, knowing no one, and one of the first people I ran into was a man named Rocky. Rocky would turn out to be one of my mentors and role models. And he may not know it, or maybe he does, he is the one who finally convinced me to go back to school and in what discipline: something, anything related to the environment!
I worked on the canoe/kayak/tripping staff, and Rocky was my "boss". He doesn't like the title, but he was in charge of all of us young ladies who were teaching, and the campers when they were at our activity. I learned to fine-tune my technique of paddling (PADDLE! No paddle dippers!), patience on the docks, to let the "stress" of the day roll off. I learned to always practice what I preach, especially when it comes to practicing Leave No Trace out in the back country. One summer, I paddled and hiked approximately 70 miles with Rocky, 2 other counselors, and 8 thirteen year old girls. Four days in the woods, hard work, no creature comforts, rain, twisted ankles, blisters, arguing...and it was AWESOME! Rocky and I may have lost our tempers once or twice (with eachother???) but, when the clouds parted, and the birds came back out...Rocky told us to hush, stop singing, stop yelling: and listen.
|Rocky on the A.T. 2009 I believe |
(I borrowed this from his FaceBook page)
I've spent countless hours outside growing up, and as a young adult, but until that moment somewhere in the Adirondack back country, I had never stopped to just listen. I heard water dripping, Ravens calling, the clink of paddle against aluminum canoe, sniffles, and the breeze through the hemlocks. It was truly magical. I then realized that I wanted to be Rocky when I grew up. I wanted to be able to connect people with nature, and create or strengthen their appreciation for all things abiotic and biotic in the wild. And now, here I am: dual majoring in Natural Resources Conservation (AAS) and Environmental Studies (AS), transferring in the fall to complete my BT in Wildife Management and beyond.
For Rocky and I, our time at camp is done (for now), but I still think back to that summer in 2009, when on the trail when he told me to swallow my toothpaste and then drink the gray water from washing dishes with eco-friendly soap. I thought that this man was NUTS, but that I loved his ethic and passion, and I that I hoped to have one of each of those myself. We still keep in touch, and it's awesome to swap stories, because now I think I have a bit to teach the ol' man, and he's an awesome listener to all of my adventures!
|Rocky's Girls: my 2 best camp friends and I summer 2010. |
Elysha, Myself, and Kasey.
|Rocky letting a camper take her first shot at portaging a canoe on her own...she did it! Briefly... :)|
|Finally, a picture that sums up our relationship. |
I have a hand to my forehead in disbelief and Rocky has the throttle wide open.
Thanks to Rocky for Sharing the Passion with me, and thanks for PTO for inspiring such a reflective blog entry.