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APR. 14, 2014

Steps

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Marlin Sill, Wilderness Program Manager

From the second we take our first step we are bound by the laws of motion.  Whether we step forward or backward, up, or down, we are moving, existing in a space for a time and then passing on to the next.  We create for ourselves endless possibilities and fulfill the dreams and wishes as we continuously, and sometimes arduously, put one foot in front of the next.

The first time you step foot on camp seems like your having to climb this daunting and endless staircase, but as the sessions winds up and the inertia builds you find yourself jumping up a small flight, or flying across the athletic field.  What seemed like your first step all over again becomes your joy and love as you race through woods and fields, swim your first lap in the lake, or slide down your first rock.

Then life throws you a curve-ball.  You’ve become so used to the “camp-walk” that you lose touch with that initial fear and excitement.  So you take the next step…You lift your timid foot and place it in the sand, letting the Atlantic surf wash over your tired legs.  The Georgia sun beams down on you while the cool sand envelopes butterflies you felt leaving camp.  And you realize you’ve done it again, you’ve taken one more step.  It was like taking a big jump up to enjoy a lively ride down.  Added Adventures are where you find that adventure once again.  You talk of Huck on a raft, or catch crabs on the shore for dinner.  All the things you learned at camp come flooding back as you make fires, pitch tents, battle raccoons, and lay under the stars.  By the time you get back to camp it all seems like a dream.  You step down from the cloud 9 adventure and jog back into the routine you’ve known so well.

But something’s changed.  You’re thirsty and no amount of broccoli water from the quad satisfies you. Advanced rocks, Intermediate paddling, X-craft, they become the stair you climb hoping to quench the thirst for adventure.  And it does, but as the path starts to level out again you wonder “If I’ve come this far, how much farther can I go?”  It doesn’t take long before you jump back into the valley you’ve so often trekked out of, and find yourself ready to board a plane for Spain. The steps seem familiar, even some of the faces who’ve grown up with you, but the air tastes different.  There’s no more Bluebird to ride in, no more broccoli water, not even a step walked at camp this time, but you’re still filled with that same rush.  The energy that comes from knowing your path is always the first of its own. A unique trek no one has walked except for you, right, now.

Spain hiking

The first steps off the plane send your head swimming.  The letters look the same but the words seem meaningless, or maybe you understand them, but it’s not the second nature you expected.  Your feet grow heavier as someone quotes Bilbo Baggins “If I take one more step It’ll be the farthest I’ve ever been from home”.  But this is nothing new to you.  It’s all about jumping in and walking the walk.  Caminando el Camino.  Before long its time to pack the bag that will be your everything for the next week.  The days are long, the Kilometers are far, and the culture and surroundings seem overwhelming in combination.  It’s no longer like the first step.  These are the steps that truly test your endurance, your commitment, and your will to forge ahead on your path to adventure.  Hundreds of Thousands, even Millions of others have walked this same path.  Each step is in the foot print of someone before and each print you leave is the path another will follow, but each is a journey all their own.  A journey they have made and a journey you continue with every step.  It’s no longer about that first hurdle, or the end destination, just one foot in front of the next.  It’s about the way you take, the steps you chose, the trail you blaze and the adventures you create. 

Ending at the Cathedral in Santiago is emotional, not because of its terminus, but because of the experiences shared across generations and faiths.  Many weep from joy knowing they’ve reached their goal. Others weep at seeing their journey come to an end.  And no matter which you feel, you will always be happy to know that the end of this step is just the start of another.