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JAN. 21, 2014

The Beginning of the Beginning

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With boots laced tightly, packs firmly strapped high up on our waists, and clear blue skies up above, we were all ready to hit the trail for orientation trek on our very first day of school. Personally, I love orientation trek because it abruptly thrusts the students into a unique process, and little do they know that they will continue to be absorbed by this process for the rest of their lives. This beautiful process, known as self-discovery or self-actualization, is something we really strive for our students to attain here at The Outdoor Academy, and we are so fortunate to be able to pursue this type of intuitive development through our unique outdoor programs.

One of the first objectives we have as instructors for orientation trek is to teach the students to find their way in the woods. We teach them how to analyze a map, and then how to orient their map correctly with a compass. This simple ability of figuring out whether to turn left or right at a trail intersection gives the students the confidence to travel well in the outdoors, but in our eyes, this confidence will translate into something much larger later on in their lives. For you see, it is our hope that our students not only learn how to correctly use a map and compass or how to select a proper campsite but to learn how to find a sense of direction in their own lives. I can’t emphasize enough just how imperative this is, because one day, our students are going to have to make extremely important decisions, and these decisions will eventually come to shape the course of their lives. One day, they are going to have to decide whether to major in biology or mechanical engineering or whether they want to join the Peace Corps or work on an organic farm in Peru, and these decisions will ultimately define who they are.

So, this is why I love orientation trek; it is the beginning of the beginning. It is the beginning of that crucial process of learning how to learn through experience. It is the start of that mysterious and wondrous process of self-discovery. It is the initiation of an experience, which over the next four months, will effectively change the way these young adults perceive the world around them; and I’m just so lucky to be apart of it all.

Justin Baker
Music Teacher