Crafting our Narrative
Orientation trek isn’t just an opportunity to share stories and meet classmates. Some of our groups climbed 2,000 vertical feet with full packs on and got the opportunity to look out over Pisgah Forest from the tops of Black Balsam Mountain and Pilot Mountain. Our students cooked every meal after they carried in the supplies and carried out the leftovers – embodying our principle of self-reliance. After all that, they walked through a grove of balsam trees to meet with the other groups and re-unite as a school.
I had the pleasure of meeting the three Orientation Trek groups as they finished their three-day hike. Sitting on a bed of pine needles, we ate popcorn to celebrate Josh’s birthday, scones baked by Susan, and fresh watermelon. The student body was buzzing with conversation as everyone shared stories from the weekend.
At the Outdoor Academy, we often talk of students time here as a parallel to the hero’s journey described by Joseph Campbell. Campbell describes many steps to the hero’s journey from The Call to Adventure to The Return. Our students start their heroic journey at different times and places and so their individual steps along the journey are different. For some, its simplythe challenge of leaving home. Others are challenged on paddle / climb weekend and face their fears in white water or high up on the rock. While their stories progress in unique and exciting ways, Orientation Trek marks the beginning of students developing their narrative voice.
On trek, they discover the power of sharing their own stories – without accompanying pictures, memes, likes, hash tags or videos. For many of our students, this is the first time they get to share their narrative without context from friends; the immediacy of Facebook, Instagram or Twitter; or pre-conceptions based on rumor (good or bad). They have the unique opportunity to craft who they are as individuals.