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APR. 23, 2014

A Poem in the Woods

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A glimpse of life on Trek.

“I want to share a poem with you that I wrote today,” the young man stares into the fire, the dancing flames reflected in his glasses. He opens his handmade journal and settles back against the log. In a calm voice, barely audible above the crackle of the fire and the whistling of the wind, he begins to read.

I feel alive when I speak

to let the world hear as

the ground pushes me up

there is nothing left to fear.


I feel alive when I laugh

to wiggle my toes and feel loose

as the atmosphere seems to dim

this is what I’d choose.


I feel alive when I cry

to leave and travel afar

as you dream of a utopia

no feathers and black tar.


I feel alive when I sneeze

to take a second and separate

as time is put at halt

it is my moment to create.


We all applaud when he finishes, thanking him for sharing.  We smile and look into the flames, contemplating his words—contemplating what it means to be alive.

This question is so perfect at this moment because we have finally come to the capstone of a semester’s worth of outdoor programming—a semester of learning how to live in the woods, testing limits and stepping out of comfort zones—we are on our ten day trek.  Ten days of hiking, carrying our lives on our backs, struggling up mountains, basking in the warm spring sunshine, crossing rivers, facing fears and finding a piece of ourselves in the wild.  After two months of preparation the students are finally ready to take the reins and lead their own epic adventure. The students really do come alive out here. Just as our trail poet alluded to, in the wilderness we are able to wiggle our toes, travel afar and separate. In actual miles, we are close to campus, a mere thirty minute drive, but it seems as if we are much further. Learning how to cook a meal in the woods, how to set up a tarp in the rain, how to filter water for drinking and how to take care of each other on the trail—all of these lessons push the students to become more alert, more proactive, more alive.

Becca Hamilton
Resident Wilderness Educator