December brings the end of short days, long field trips, final papers, projects and reports. As the Wilderness and Civilization program students finish up a hectic semester, we spend the last few days of the fall program at a wilderness retreat-taking the time to hang out together, review the past few months, reflect on friendships, group dynamics, program challenges and program highlights. We plan our activities for the spring semester, eat potluck dinners together, and do a gift exchange. We even fit in time to do a little wildlife tracking. We had music provided by students, great views provided by the mountains rimming Como Lake, great fires in the cabin thanks to a whole semester of students splitting wood wherever we happened to stay, and great evening skies celebrated best on the frozen lake.
Each year, I have the incredible opportunity to engage with the students in the Wilderness and Civilization program as their instructor, program director, and hopefully, helpful mentor through an exciting educational experience. I am always struck by the intelligence, motivation, work ethic, attitude, and positive group dynamic that forms between the students of the Wilderness and Civilization program. As I reflect on the program going forward-things to change, things to keep, ways to increase the positivity of the experience for the students, I will always remember each and every student that has come through this program. As 2013 draws to a close, and 2014, the year of Wilderness, and the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act begins, I smile and think of the coming adventures for students in the program, and the adventures being had by those that have gone before us.
May 2014 bring new adventures, new challenges, new views from amazing mountain tops, and the opportunity to push each of us in new directions.