13 minutes ago
“So, where else have you been hiking?” I asked the kid bringing up the back of the group.
“What? Oh, no - this is the first time I’ve ever been hiking,” he laughed back.
...cue my stunned silence.
And so it was for many of the eleven middle school students I spent this past weekend with while instructing on a two day camping trip. Though these students live in Longmont, for many of them it was their first time on a hiking trail, first time in a national park, and first time ever camping. (And, yes - all in 34 degree weather with constant rain and a night of heavy snow. These kids were champs!)
This weekend I felt my privilege in a way that I often entirely forget about in the places I choose to live. Hiking, visiting national parks, being able to afford the gear to comfortably spend a night out in the wilderness seems to be the norm, but for so many it’s not only unusual, it feels out of reach for one reason or another.
Thankfully, despite the chilly conditions, the beauty of RMNP did its thing and captivated these kids in a way that made them all declare that they wanted to return to similar places. And, of course, the best thing about hiking is that it can be the most low maintenance activity around: it’s free. There’s no fancy gear required. And you can do it just about anywhere within an hour or so of wherever you are in the world. Witnessing the realization of this in these young kids was a beautiful thing.
Feeling extra super grateful right now for my outdoor community, for all those who introduced me to the outdoors when I was a kid, and for the power of nature for making my job pretty darn easy...even when I’m so cold I can’t feel my toes. #outdooreducatorlife