Today I spent the day with the Senior class, on a retreat day with the Freshman at Top of the Pines. Watching them “in action” as leaders of their school was fantastic. While the start of the year and the trip down Cataract Canyon seems like it was forever ago, many of them gained confidence and strengthened their voices on the Senior Outward Bound trip, just before school started this year. GGSF helped make that trip a reality, helping several students with scholarships.
Below are some excerpts from their reflections the last day of the trip.
It was 5 a.m. and not even the early departure from RSS could stifle our excitement for the much anticipated senior trip on the mighty Colorado River. All the prep was finally complete. Detailed packing lists: check. Liability forms: check. Doctor’s visits and medical screening: check. We were finally on the road aboard our trusty yellow dog and on our way to the desert.
-Mr Spearman, from his “Desert Solitaire Part II: Cataract Canyon” summarizing their trip
Our first day on the river involved a relaxing flatwater cruise. The guides showed us the proper way to lash the boats together, then we fitted the outboard motor on the back and made some miles. The sun was out and spirits were soaring as we drank in the solitude and scenery. Endless jokes were told. The kids and I racked our brains to figure out riddles we shared with each other. We splashed one another, laughed at one another, swam next to the rafts, hooted, hollered, and generally had a grand time being away from our phones, email accounts, and normal obligations.
As we gathered to eat and debrief the day, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky or a care in the world. Edward Abbey would have been jealous of the desert star show we were treated to that night. Before bed, our guides talked about Outward Bound’s expeditionary learning philosophy and about community, conservation, and healthy risk-taking. Everybody slept soundly that night and we all agreed that our plastic ground tarps and ¼ inch foam pads nestled in the sand were better than any California King memory foam bed confined by four walls and a roof.
Everybody agreed that by disentangling ourselves from our technological spider webs, we all felt more connected than ever. This was real interaction. We talked about how liberating it felt to live in the moment and not have anywhere else we needed to be or wanted to be.
As we made our way down to a warm meal and cozy sleeping bags we were all aware that the further into the wilderness we floated, we grew more connected to each other and this landscape.
The final morning, as we motored closer and closer to Lake Powell and civilization we all noted the mixed emotions of coming to the end of an epic adventure. On one hand we joked about how good a hot shower would feel or about how we missed our family and pets. But, that feeling was bittersweet as we came to terms with leaving this majestic place we’d had the privilege of living in for the last week. In the end, we learned about each other, the river, the canyons, the wildlife, communication, overcoming adversity, living in the present, how to not take ourselves too seriously, and most importantly to appreciate the lives we have and the time we are allowed to spend on this earth.