Hante planning is in FULL SWING! Along with planning, I think about all of the lessons and skills I want our participants to gain while on their trip…

There are the obvious skills: setting up a tent, building a fire, packing a backpack, and leave no trace ethics. But what about those skills that aren’t as easily defined? Our experiences in the outdoors are so much more. Here are some of my favorite skills I have learned from spending time outside and those I hope for our participants to experience:

  1. Food, no matter what it is, always tastes more delicious after a day in the Wilderness. I remember leading a trip in the Pacific Northwest; we were backpacking in the North Cascades. It rained all afternoon on the trail. My co-leader and I surprised our students by making delicious grilled cheese sandwiches and hot tomato soup while they set up their tents and dried off. I can still remember how good it tasted, even on the squashed and crumbling English muffin.
  2. Dancing in the rain is superior to simply standing in the rain. Lightning protocol is something we do when there is a lightning threat in the area. We spread out and crouch down on an insulating item to mitigate the risk of the storm. Well, after a little while, the rain gets to you and there’s not a dry bone in sight. The storms pass and it’s time to dry off and warm up. I have found the most effective way to do this is to dance! Singing helps too.
  3. Laughter is contagious, especially when you’re feeling tired. I have a game. Have the group, if they feel comfortable, lie down with their heads resting on each other’s stomachs. It ends up looking like a zigzag line of sorts. The first person says “Ha”, the second person “Ha – Ha”, the third person “Ha-Ha-Ha”, and so forth. Let me know what happens.
  4. It will rain. Even if the forecast says it won’t. Especially in Pisgah National Forest. Rain jackets and rain pants are CRUCIAL.
  5. It’s not an adventure until something goes awry. You never know what it’s going to be: a bear bag breaks, the spatula goes missing, your route needs changing due to unexpected snow fall, your route needs changing due to drought, the van gets a flat tire, the relentless raccoon begging for treats, your socks become a little too singed whilst trying to dry by a fire. The list could go on, but this is what creates the adventure and the lessons that we learn!
  6. Challenge and adversity are our greatest teachers. This is the most important lesson of all. The hike that is the most challenging will provide the prettiest view at the top.

Our Hante trips are challenging both physically and mentally. Our leaders are there to guide you through these challenges and facilitate the dancing throughout so we can all have fun during the rain and the shine. The lessons are endless, and it is my hope that each Hante participant learns a little something along the way.

By Mims Montgomery