In this summer’s edition of LOCALadk Magazine, NOLS Northeast Manager and Senior Instructor Lindsay Yost reflects on the transformative power of a wilderness experience, especially for teenage students returning from their first backpacking trips.
“Fatigued but energized. Dirty but healthy. Living simply but feeling fulfilled. Far from home but utterly content.
Immersing yourself in the wilderness is an emotional experience—often surprising and always profound. To me, this is most evident when I watch teenage students return to the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) Northeast campus in Gabriels, New York, after three weeks of backpacking and canoeing deep in the Adirondack wilderness...
Today, I decide to ask a simple yet favorite question to end the debrief: ‘What learnings are you going to take away from this experience?’ From across the circle, a 15-year-old from New York City says to me, ‘I’m gonna think about this place when I can vote.’ This assertive and adamant statement brings nods from his peers. Three weeks prior, at the beginning of the expedition, this young man had wanted nothing to do with this place.”