We can’t save the world

We can’t save the world

We can’t save the world

But we can disrupt lives

Posted by Gabe, Executive Director

In 2014 we incorporated literature and writing exercises into our Wilderness Corps Program. Each night the crew gathered in a circle and read aloud passages from America’s classic outdoor authors.

I’ll never forget sitting around with them at Mosquito Bog in June. The mosquitoes grew so oppressive that the crew was fanning tanoak branches around themselves. This quickly disintegrated into the group beating one another with tanoak switches. After sustaining countless mosquito bites, the crew broke into laughter and dispersed into their tents.

They also kept a daily journal and each submitted three essays over the summer. And I got to read it all, which was one of the highlights of my year. Each crew member came in with their own style, strengths and weaknesses.

Some individuals made demonstrable improvements, but that isn’t what struck me. As I use their anecdotes to draw inspiration for year-end reports, what struck me is that each and every crew member got better at expressing themselves through writing.

They started using journals as a tool to reflect on and share their experiences. The journal entries became shorter, more personal, more succinct, and more entertaining to read. When I read their later journal entries, I can really start to hear their voices, sometimes loud and clear.

Among my favorite journal entries was from a crew member who typically wrote in a very romantic, long, flowery style. Late in the summer that crew member entered a single profanity for his daily prose after a tough day.

To me that reflected marked growth.

Later in the summer I came to terms with the reality that the crew members probably wouldn’t continue reading and journaling each night after the program was finished. On field visits I kept reminding my crew leader Aaron. “We can’t save the world,” I told him over and over again.

It’s true. SMC can’t save the world. But I do believe we can disrupt the world and we can certainly disrupt lives, in a good way. That’s what we’ve gotten really good at.

I look forward to disrupting the lives of more students next year.

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